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THE HISTORY OF SCOTLAND, BOOK XI
ONALD was succeeded on the throne of Scotland by Constantine III, the son of Ethus Wingfoot, in the year of the Virgin Birth 903. He was a man more suited by nature for civic and religious matters than for warfare. Intending to wage war on him, Edward (who had been created King of the English after the death of his father Alfred) sent a herald commanding him to restore to the English Northumbria, Cumbria, and Westmoreland, regions which Gregory had forcibly wrested from them during times of trouble. Constantine's reply to the herald was, “King Edward, in a manner very different than that of his excellent father Alfred, has suffered no wrong at our hands, and yet is declaring an impious war on us, out of his greed for acquisition. Take home the news that we undertake this war with high hearts, and with God’s help with these same high hearts we shall bring it to a conclusion, praying the saints that He turn the slaughter that it will create entirely against the man guilty of beginning it.” Then the Scots and English harried each other by staging raids back and forth. Thus the year was consumed with light skirmishing but no encounters with their full forces, lest either side be exposed to Danish harm. The English elders realized that this war involved more effort than it was worth, and urged Edward to make his peace with the Scots and direct all his might against the Danes, whose strength in Albion had now grown greater than seemed safe for the English, and promised they would give him his full support with their arms, strength, weapons, and wealth. Edward took their advice and sent ambassadors to Constantine, easily persuading him, being a man more eager for peace than war, that reparations be paid for injuries inflicted in all quarters, and that both nations abide by their old treaty.
2. Soon thereafter, Edward gained an unexpected opportunity to declare war on the the Danes, something he had long sought. A Danish commander named Cithric hanged some poor Englishmen, notorious for their robbery, who had been defeated and taken prisoner in Danish territory. The English regarded this as a great outrage, and cruelly put to death some Danes staying at London for the sake of commerce. There ensued plundering and the murder of good men, committed by Danes in English lands and by the English peasantry in the territory of the Danes, which soon fomented a war between their peoples. When both armies stood beneath their standards, ready for battle with swords drawn, the war was stopped by the intervention of bishops and priests. They set aside their anger and first their commanders, then their soldiers clasped hands in greeting, and the result was mutual friendship. Peace was followed by kinship, when Edward’s daughter Beatrice was bestowed on the Danish commander Cithric, and appeared to be cemented for centuries to come. Among its other terms, this one was conspicuous: that if a male child issued from that marriage, he would succeed to the English throne. Edward had a brother named Edwin, a man of no small standing among the English. At Cithric’s suggestion, he was sent by Edward to Flanders aboard a rickety old ship lest he aspire to the crown, and was drowned in a shipwreck. At the same time Edward’s bastard Athelstan went into voluntary exile, lets he be undone by Danish deceit and suffer and end like Edwin’s.
3. The Danes were pleased with themselves, having high hopes for the situation after Edward’s death, since he had no surviving sons not fathered on Beatrice. While the English and Danes were intent on this peace, their minds dead set against war and neither nation expecting future damage from the other, Edward received a secret communication from the daughter whom he had married to Cithric, warning him to be on guard against his son-in-law’s treachery: if he remained on good terms with him, as before, it would soon come to pass that he would experience Danish perfidy, at the cost of his life. Receiving this message, the English king greatly regretted the death of his brother Edwin and having mixed his blood with that of the Danes. Driven almost to madness, forgetting his royal person and his dignity, he could scarcely be restrained by his retinue from doing violence to himself. Finally, returning to his proper self, his grief turned to anger and, repaying his son-in-law’s treachery tit-for-tat, by means of his daughter he killed him by poison. Cithric had two sons, Avalassus and Godfried, both outstanding warriors. The Danish elders immediately advanced them to succeeded in their father’s place, to govern with equal power. So they were elected as kings of the Danes in Albion and took up arms to avenge their father’s murder. They put courtiers and handmaids to the torture and extracted the entire truth concerning their mother-in-law. Soon, when they had discovered that Beatrice had betrayed Cithric’s intentions to her father and poisoned her husband at his urging, to her great disgrace they obliged her to sit naked on an ice-cold anvil, her arms bound across her chest with a rope and red-hot eggs roasted on coals tucked under her armpits, until she gave up the ghost, a form of punishment unheard-of until that time.
4. After these events, all hopes for peace were dashed and the Danes warred against the English, with varying degrees of success. At length, an atrocious battle was fought alongside the river Ouse and the Danes were scattered. Victory fell to the English, but it was scarcely a happy one, since they lost King Edward. When news of the English king’s death spread abroad, albeit they had suffered defeat the Danes regarded this as an omen that they would overcome their enemy, since they were now headless. So they collected their forces and with great enthusiasm took heart once more. Following a council of war about strategy, Avalassus left behind his brother Godfreid to govern his nation in England, and himself hastened to Constantine King of Scots. Partly by means of gifts and partly by promises of a large sum of money and other things, he bribed the king into violating his treaty and joining the Danes in their fight against the English. Thus both the Scots and the Danes industriously prepared the necessities for war, as large a store of grain, pack-animals, and wagons to carry their weapons and provisions as they could collect, thinking it would cost them no great trouble to destroy the English in Albion. But such is the human condition that men are most exposed to wrongdoing by others when they most greatly trust in their own strength, the unhappy sequel showed that such warlike equipment and such overconfident strivings were for naughty. Constantine assembled an army of twenty thousand men and set over it Donald’s son Malcolm, upon whom he bestowed Cumbria, ordaining that henceforth the heir-apparent to the Scottish crown should possess that region. Malcolm was joined by Avalassus and Godfried and no small company of Danes, and immediately they led the entire hostile force into English territory. There they laid waste to everything, and not fail to exhibit all evidence of war and wrath. For they had sent his army against the English to see if by the murder of innocents and the ruination of buildings both secular and sacred they could entice the outraged English to stand and fight them, knowing full well that the English were not their equals in strength.
5. But the more impudently they rushed into ever manner of wrongdoing, the quicker followed their punishment. For King Athelstan of the English (the bastard son of King Edward, whom they had made king after his father’s death in recognition of his excellent virtue), saw the English fields to be full of fire and steel, virgins consecrated to God being deflowered, matrons raped, and everything filled with the lamentation of babes and widows for a full four days. So, omitting no religious observations and praying God for a happy outcome, relying on divine protection he marched to meet the enemy. They fought a hot battle at Broningfield. At the first encounter, the English acted as if they were suffering a defeat and gave a little ground by prearrangement. At this, as if they were already victorious, the Danes and Scots proudly taunted the vanquished, broke ranks, and fell to looting. Seeing this, the English, as they had been ordered by their commander, returned to the battlefield in good military order and by doing a great amount of killing they easily gained the victory. That black day went to show that the Scots and Danes had more strength than they did intelligence. For they were in such numbers they could almost have placed their enemy under arrest without a fight, they had their minds fixed more on plunder than security, and, to their great disgrace and to the great cost of their commonwealth, they lost the victory within their grasp. In that battle the Danes and Scots lost almost more men than they had in any previous one, and nearly the entire Scottish nobility, since, as was their custom, they kept on fighting to the bitter end to avoid any future accusations of base flight. Taking advantage of his victory, Athelstan immediately took his victorious English forces and went to Northumbria. Since that region was empty of any garrisons, he easily seized it and received the fealty of all its castles and towns. Not delaying there, he marched against Cambria and Westmorland. When he arrived there the locals appeared barefoot and hatless, which among them was a sign of submission.
6. A wounded Malcolm, carried on a litter hung between two horses so that his body would not be shaken, came home to report this defeat to Constantine. Learning how unhappily the Danes and Scots had fought at Broningfield, and of the strength with which Aethelstan had invaded Northumbria, Cumbria, and Westmoreland, he convened a parliament of nobles, to be held at Abernety, to consult about public safety. When they had assembled, he saw that because of its old age the nobility was rendered unfit for protecting the republic or governing it in either or peace. For all its men of an age capable of bearing arms had been destroyed in the recent battle. So as to remove himself from the splendor of his daily life, he abdicated the throne and joined the pious college then existing at St. Andrews Cathedral (called Culdees in that age), where he shaved his pate and became a monk, in the year of Christ’s birth in this flesh 943, the fortieth of his reign. And, having served Christ there for a while, he achieved an ending highly worthy of a Christian man and was buried at St. Andrews among its bishops. But some years later he was disinterred and his body was transported to Iona, and was placed in the royal graveyard, with a noble tomb. In the thirty-sixth year of his reign, two monsters were born in Albion, a hermaphrodite among the Danes with a pig’s head, chest more outithrust than a man’s, a fat belly, and feet that could almost belong to a goose; it was entirely covered with hair and foul to behold. Another in Northumbria was a single-sexed mail with one belly but two chests with breastbones like keels, not as wide as a man’s, and four arms. It had two heads, and the appearance of a man split in two from the chest upwards. It always was of divided opinions and so consisted of two men in a single body. While the one slept, the other was awake. When one craved food, the other refused it. Sometimes they railed against each other, and on occasion attained such a degree of contentiousness that they would hit or scratch each other. Finally, when one died after a protracted disease, the other could not bear the stench of the dead body and quickly died too. At the same time blood burst forth from a certain hill in Galloway, and flowed in a stream for a week. Hence the rivulegts, which are abundant in those parts, ran red with blood into the Irish Sea several miles away, and were terrifying to behold. Many men predicted that this presaged that no little amount of Scottish blood would soon be shed, not without injury to their nation. The credibility of those who thus interpreted this strange manifestation was enhanced by the unhappy battle that was fought at Broningfield not long thereafter.
7. After Constantine had retired into private monastic life, as I have shown, Donald’s son Malcolm ruled among the Scots. Since he saw that the Scottish lacked the capacity to wage war, their resources being shattered at the moment, he was minded to protect the regions he still possessed, and to make peace with the English, if he could achieve that, thus keeping his affairs intact until better times. But when he was on the verge of sending ambassadors to Athelstan to sue for peace, he received many messages informing him that the English king had made the Danish leader Avalassus a free gift of Northumbria, and had entered in league with him on the condition that he join with himself in a campaign against the Scots. This news upset Malcolm, unsure what do in such fearful straits, because he had neither the strength at home to resist such enemy ventures, nor any hope of receiving help for elsewhere, and (which troubled him most of all) there was no opportunity for the nobles of the realm to avoid this peril, at a time when old age was upon them. Then, when he had convened a parliament of the surviving nobles and each had spoken such childish stuff as he saw fit, after lengthy and varied debate no definite suggestion was proposed, and it seemed that he would be obliged to dissolve the parliament without its having accomplished anything. Then the king and nobles were informed that, for a trifling cause, a feud had erupted within the enemy army (for during this time the Danes and English had assembled their forces for an expedition against the Scots), and that this quarrel had divided the whole host two factions and involved them in a very bloody fight. After a lengthy struggle, the victory had fallen to the English, and they did not cease killing Danes until nightfall took away their ability to see them and give chase, thus putting an end to the fight. King Athelstan had lost a great part of his army and was tarrying in Northumbria, having broken off the expedition. It was scarcely clear what he wanted to do or what plans he was nursing: to return from where he started, to pursue the Danes, or to march against the Scots.
8. Hearing these things, King Malcolm had his holy bishops require the clergy and all the people to offer up thanksgivings to God Almighty, by Whose help, as the Scots had discovered, their enemies’ power was shattered at no cost to themselves. The bishops obeyed his edict and with a will the people performed the sacred ceremonies they enjoyed. Meanwhile ambassadors from King Athelstan appeared before Malcolm suing for peace, and, having said a few words about the condition of both kings, they added that it greatly pertained to the security of both nations to renew their old peace by new peace-treaty made on fair conditions, and for both peoples to abide by it in accordance with their ancestral custom, content with their own borders: this the English nobles and people earnestly desired. The ambassadors were giving a hearing at a public meeting, and at Malcolm’s bidding they were given the response that peace should sooner or later make an end to protracted war, even if at a cost to the belligerent parties: the law of human vicissitudes was that peace should end war, and war put a stop to peace. So that the present quarrel, ruinous to both sides, should come to a conclusion, although King Malcolm had a character no less accommodated to martial matters than to civic ones, for the sake of the common welfare of the men of Albion he preferred peace no less than did Athelstan, as long as it was on honorable terms. Therefore he told the ambassadors the English nobles should decide what to do, and that the Scots’ minds were now open to all possibilities. After this embassy, by common consent a treaty was made between the English and the Scots on the former conditions, with this one addition, that the English should cede Northumbria (at that time almost fully occupied by men of Danish blood), Cumbria and Westmoreland, but with the stipulation that their Scottish prince (for, as said above, that is what our countryman call the heir-apparent to the throne) should swear fealty to the King of England for that region.
9. With peace between these kings and peoples thus cemented by stated conditions, and when Indulf, the son of Constantine III, had been installed as Prince of Cumbria, Malcolm devoted the rest of his life devoted to civic and religious matters. And after having done many fine things after the manner of his ancesters, he was making a progress through his kingdom for the purpose of administering the law, when he finally died at Ulrin, a village of Moray, in the fifteenth year of his reign, where he was killed in the night by the wiles of a few conspirartors, for having been excessively severe in punishing robbers. The conspirators were diligently sought by his nobles for punishment, and were caught at first light and executed, but in various ways. The actual perpetrators of the murder had their arms and legs tied to horses and were torn apart limb from limb, which were then hung up in different cities to memorialize their hateful felonity. Those who had first devised the scheme and suborned others to dare the deed had their bodies pierced with sharp stakes, and then were hanged on the highest gallows,l prividing a disgusting sight to the spectators. Other conspirators were killed in other ways. Malcolm’s death in the year of the Christian religion 959. Athelstan died three years after Malcolm’s murder, having bequeathed his crown to his son Edmund. Some write that Edmund was Athelstan’s brother, but what Vairement recorded is closer to the truth by the showing of many men of no small learning, that Edmund and Eadred, who reigned after him, were sons of Athelstan,. since they say that King Edward had no offspring other than Athelstan and Beatrice, who was married to Cithric the Dane. But, whoever Edmund was and whatever his parentage may have been (for this cannot be ascertained with certainty, since authorities disagree), it is clear enough by the evidence of all writers that he ascended to the English throne during the reign of Indulf King of Scots.
10. After Malcolm’s body had been transported to Iona, this Indulf was seated on the Stone of Destiny at Scone during a gathering of the Scottish nobility and crowned, and for five years he administered his realm capably, thus far confronted by no enemy’s mischiefmaking. Then Avalassus sent him messages inviting him to side with the Danes and Norwegians against the English, who argued that the defeat at Broningfield required revenge. For Edmund was a dull-witted fellow and quite unfit to govern, so the suitable time was at hand. Nor was the pact between Malcolm and Athelstan any hindrance to the Scots taking up arms against the English, for, since everything ends at death, now that the kings responsible for this treaty were dead, the treaty itself was of necessity null and void. Indulf’s reply was that Malcolm had entered into this pact with the English after due consideration, and it had been adopted by the oaths of two kings. All men ought to keep their word, and a Christian most of all. Therefore he chose to stand by the treaty, lest he render God, that Avenger of broken faith, angry against the Scottish nation. The Danes thought Indulf’s response the mark of a fool and a coward, for his words sounded as if he was unmoved by the slaughter at Broningfield and had decided, under a show of religion, to let those responsible go unpunished. And, lest they themselves be taxed for any similar sloth, Avalassus decided to summon the Norwegians under command of their excellent commander Reenacts, and swiftly transport an army to England. When he arrived in Northumbria the Englishman Elgarine, Edmund’s governor of that region, gave him a friendly reception and, boasting that he was born of Danish blood, handed over all his castles and fortifications, promising he would strive might and main to help him against Edmund. Being told of this by men who had fled to him as a means of avoiding Danish rule, the English king summoned ten thousand Scotsman in accordance with their treaty, and with their enthusiastic support he hastened to Northumbria.
11. As he was advancing in martial array, Avalassus sent him a herald earnestly requesting that he allow the Danes a home in Northumbria situated between the Scots and the English, which once had been granted by favor of Athelstan, and this would cause no trouble for either nation. Rather, should any external enemy ever invade, they would come to his aid with all their forces. He was willing to take an oath that he would so do. But Edmund was thoroughly familiar with Danish perfidy, and when Avalassus could not obtain this, having everything in readiness for battle, he immediately marched against his enemies, bent on a ferocious fight. About eight thousand Northumbrians stood beneath Avalassus’ standard, but when the battle-lines first came together, they dissolved in flight, providing Edmund with a way to victory. First they fought at a distance with missiles and slings, then they began to fight at close quarters. The Danes fared poorly, for they were greatly outnumbered, and many of their common soldiers were slain and the rest put to rout. Their nobility awaited the battle’s final fortune. Few Danes and Norwegians were killed on the battlefield, but many in the flight, in which such savagery was exercised that even those who surrendered were not spared the sword. Elgarine the Northumbrian was captured among the runaways, for Edmund had forbidden him to be killed if he were taken. He was put in chains and brought to York. For the following three days, the victorious forces rested in open country adjoining the battlefield. During this time the dead were buried and the spoils shared out in accordance with the ancient custom. Then Edmund congratulated the Scots on having conquered their enemies and sent them home with a large share of the plunder. In the company of a choice band of soldiers, he went to York, having first dismissed his army.
12. Three days later, he commanded Elgarine’s body to be pulled apart by horses, to teach others that loyalty is sacred, and that this man had violated the loyalty sworn his sovereign, a loathsome crime not to be dared in the future. Such was the unhappy ending assigned Elgarine as punishment for his treachery. Soon the other Northumbrian nobles were led before Edmund, Some were strangled with cords for their bad faith towards the English, and others were imprisoned. For the following four years Albion was free of war, and in this time King Indulf devoted himself to civic matters and very successfully performed the duties pertaining to an excellent ruler. But when everything in Albion seemed most destined to enjoy peace, Haakon of Norway and Elrik of Denmark arrived in Albion with a great fleet, for the purpose of avenging the defeat in Northumbria. They suffered a defeat in the Firth of Forth and, attempting to land their forces first in Lothian, and then in Fife, they were prevented by the locals and turned elsewhere. Entering the estuary of the Tay, they attempted a landing there too, but with no better success than they had experienced in the Firth of Forth. Therefore they left the Tay and, having coasted along Angus, Merne, Mar, and Buchan without finding any place unprotected by soldiers, they pretended to sail away. On the fourth they thereafter, in broad daylight the returned to the shore of Boine, the district next door to Buchan. where they set all their forces ashore before a Scottish army could arrive there. The inhabitants attempted to prevent their landing, although without success. Being outnumbered and unable to withstand their assault, they abandoned their fortunes and took to the hills for refuge. This news was heard with trepidation by Scotmen everywhere, and they called on Indulf to fight the Danes quickly. Attending to the matter promptly, he brought his forces to Boine more quickly than word arrived that he was on the march. Then its commanders, seeing that a fight was inevitable thanks to the Scots’ arrival, recalled a band of Danes scattered abroad plundering Boine. And the Danes and Norwegians had scarcely assembled beneath ther standards when King Indulf made his appearance with his forces, not without great terror for his enemies, so that he might swiftly set his forces in battle order.
13. Then, instead of a harangue, he urged the Scots nobles to think it no small thing, but indeed one greatly conducive to victory, that they were about to come to blows with the final remnants of that nation which they themselves had bravely defeated a few years ago in the battle in Northumbria; that they had the same commander as in the former war, possessed of the same authority, but of greater prudence thanks to his age; their courage had not slackened, and their strength and resources had grown in a peacetime free of ignoble idleness. They should therefore wield their weapons with a will, fighting in a pious war against an impious enemy. If they gained the day, they would not only have rich spoils as the reward for their effort, but also security for their nation themselves, something of which their enemy had come to despoil them. The ferocity of the Danish assault put an end to Indulf’s words. For a while the victory hung in the advance, and eventually the battle-lines were thrown into disarray and men clustered together in wedges. Neither the Danes seemed ready to yield, since they had not yet abandoned hope for victory, nor were the Scots about to desist from doing their good work, as they were in high hopes, until two right noble captains from Lothian, Dunbar and Graham, appeared a little in their rear. At their sight, the astonished Danes fighting in the forefront fell back among their second line of supporters. The Scots gave pursuit, and worked their slaughter as far as the third line. Those in that line, choosing to die in the fight rather than in a rout, fought on with stubbornness more than strength. But some Danish javelin-men despaired of their safety and began a rush to their ships, and other scattered about through the fields. Ignorant of the ground, they fell into marshy land and were easily overwhelmed by their pursuers. When the day had been won, just as if all was now pacified, Indulf was ranging the fields with some companies of soldiers when he chanced across a band of Danes hiding in a valley, where they had fled when the battle had scarcely begun and kept clear of the flight. A fight broke out and he was run through the head with an arrow and died, but not before the enemy had been killed to the last man. His corpse was first borne to Cullen, a town in Boine near which the battle was fought. Then it was conveyed in sorrowful estate to the common graveyard of the kings on Iona. Indulf reigned nine years, and he died a brave but unlucky death in the year of Christianity 968, in the year that Eadred began to rule the English, after the death of Edmund.
14. After Indulf’s body had been taken to Iona, the Scottish nobility brought King Malcolm’s son Duff to the marble chair at Scone and hailed him as their king. At the beginning of his reign, after appointing King Indulf’s son Colin Prince of Cumbria, he immediately crossed over to the Hebrides, because he had learned that some robbers were running riot there. There he gathered to himself the thanes of the islands and commanded them to clear the Hebrides of robbers and ravagers, at whose hands the peasantry had suffered much harm: he swore a sacred oath that, if any common man henceforth endured any further mistreatment, he would not use the law to punish the man responsible with any greater severity than those nobles entrusted with the duty of protecting the common folk. Many of these thanes obeyed the royal edict and captured those ranging the islands with their savagery, arresting some by their authority and others by ambushes, since they could not do otherwise. Those men accustomed to live by rapine were advised by such evidence of what such boldness led to, and so that the public authority would not come down on them too, they either fled to Ireland or took up some manual trade, no matter how much they lorded it with their noble blood. Some of the nobility took this hard, thinking it unworthy for the sons of fine families to earn a livelihood by servile work: peasants were vile slaves created by nature to serve the nobility, but now were given preference over the wellborn in the receipt of magistracies, or had at any rate been made their equals. They quietly muttered that King Duff was a friend to vile peasants and similar base-born, low-down fellows, but had become an enemy of the nobility, and ought not to govern nobles. This whisper soon spread abroad, not just in the Hebrides, but throughout almost all of Scotland, with many men secretly criticizing his rule.
15. Meanwhile the king fell into a languor, not just a grave one, but also one which all his learned physicians could not diagnose, being as yet unfamiliar with foreign diseases, thanks to the Scottish way of life and physical constitution. For without showing any symptom of an excess of bile, phlegm, or any other errant humor, or any deviation from human temperament, it gradually afflicted Duff. He would like awake at nights, dissolving into an uncontrollable sweat, and in the day, enjoying no relief from his night-time pains, he could could not sleep. His body was being wasted by this constant decay and came to resemble a scarecrow. His skin grew stretched, revealing to onlookers his veins, muscles, and the shape of his bones. A sweet and steady issuance of vital spirit from his heart, which could be detected by his pulse, showed that his vital humor had not lost his temperament. His color was lifelike, his hearing and eyesight were unimpaired, and his appetite for food and drink was moderate and regular. When these signs of good health persisted in a man afflicted by languor and great pain, the doctors were baffled. When they had done all they could and had found no way to stop his harmful excessive sweating, and seen the king hourly tormented by increasing sweating and constant insomnia, they turned to consoling their patient (for this, in their opinion, was their only remaining course) and begged him to remain hopeful and not give up on himself: he would be helped by foreign nostrums and physicians whom they themselves would speedily fetch, since they found this disease strange and could not understand it. But at the coming of springtime, at a time when the sun, that provider of life in all living things, returns to us, he would regain his health. Having small hope that his health would recuperate in the future, the king often summoned his regional governors and nobles and commanded them to be vigilant for the public good. They should suffer no man to live who was injurious to his people in any respect, so that all men would understand that the welfare of the commonwealth was as dear to the hearts of the elders of the Scottish nation as they were to their ailing king, whose responsibilities they had begun to perform.
16. They wholeheartedly agreed with their king’s words, or so it seemed. But after a little while the elders began to manage affairs with greater laxity. Hence many men, chafing under the magistrates’ authority, began to think about rebellion. Meanwhile, the nobles of Moray, having killed their magistrates and believing the king’s strength to be all but ruined, did not give a fig for public authority and continued very licentiously raging against the common folk and those nobles who persisted in their loyalty to the king. Hence very many unbridled men practiced murder, rapine, devastation, and robbery against their neighbors, as if they were subjected to no man’s government. The physicians forbade the king, suffering from all but fatal ill health, to be informed of these things, lest this plunge him into melancholy and a speedy death ensue. At this time, there arose an anonymous rumor among the common folk that their king was not languishing from a natural disease, but rather was being afflicted by witches and their demonic art, so that over such a long period time he was being ruined in his body and strength, and that these witches were using their magical and prophetic art to his destruction at the town of Forres in Moray. As soon as this rumor came to the king’s ears, lest, if it were made public, this would cause the witches to flee and escape punishment, spies were sent to Moray to investigate these tales. The agents sent on this mission dissimulated the reason for their journey and, as if for the sake of making peace between King Duff and the conspirators of Moray, they came to Forres. Admitted into the castle at night (for it had remained loyal to the king), they revealed to Donald, the castle governor, the reason for their coming, as they had been instructed, and requested his loyalty and help in accomplishing their mission. The soldiers who comprised the castle garrison had their own suspicions about this matter. For when one of them, the lover of a prostitute whose mother was a soothsaying enchantress, coaxed information out of her concerning the time the king’s ill health began, its continuation, and what magic charms the witches were employing, he got an earful. He revealed these things to his comrades, they to Donald, and he to the royal representatives. Then Donald summoned the whore to himself (she chanced to be in the castle at the time) and put her to the question. When he had compelled her to confess the way in which everything had been done and in what house, he sent soldiers in the dark of night to investigate the entire matter.
17. They went to the witches’ house and broke down the door. Bursting in, they found one witch roasting at a fire a waxen image of King Duff, manufactured (as is reasonable to believe) by devilish art, affixed to a wooden spit, and another who, having recited some charms, was dripping some liquor on the image. So these enchantresses were quickly arrested, put in chains, and dragged to the castle together with the image. Asked why they were reciting their charms and exposing the king’s image to the fire during the night, they replied that that while they held his image to the fire King Duff would dissolve in a sweat, would be kept awake as long as they recited their incantations, and would become emaciated as the wax melted. As soon as the wax was consumed, the king’s death was bound to follow. Thus they had been instructed by evil demons, and had been hired by nobles of Moray to do this deed. Those present were outraged by what the hags said. The broke up the image and made sure that the witches suffered a great punishment for their crime by being burned alive. They say that at the time these things took place in the castle of Forres, the king was relieved of is languor and slept at night with no sweating. When his men returned the following day, he was enjoying normal human vigor, just as if he had been suffering no previous malady. But, whatever the truth may be, Duff’s strength returned and he was soon restored to good health. Then he assembled a host of soldiers and marched against the rebels in Moray, then gave quick chase as the fled into Ross and finally into Caithness. He finally caught them, brought them back to Forres, and punished them on the gallows. Among those hanged were certain handsome young kinsmen of Donald, the governor of Forres Castle, who had been inspired to commit treason more by the deceitful urgings of others than their own natures. Donald tried to obtain their pardon, but in vain, so he was offended and all but set afire with anger. But, lest any visible sign of his indignation prevent him from avenging this insult, as he regarded it, for the moment he kept this anger concealed.
18. The man’s desire for revenge increased, since he was deeply offended by what had been done. He brooded about how Duff, whom he had restored to health and to whom he had remained loyal while the other Moray men were conspired against him, had shown himself an ingrate when he disgracefully displayed his kinsmen, who had followed their elders out of the empty-headedness of youth rather than any evil intentions, to the multitude hanging from the gallows. Donald’s wife understood from signs of his expression and carriage that he was silently nursing a sore grudge, and pressed her husband to tell her the reason. Overcome by her frequent entreaties, he finally told her the entire story of what King Duff had done, and how much he had outraged his family. She was a headstrong woman, possessed of a violent nature and a deep hatred of the king, because he had dealt with a number of her kinsmen no less harshly than with the ringleaders of the conspiracy. For some days previously, she had been tormented by inner resentment, but had had no idea of what to do. But when she heard what was on her husband’s mind, she said, “Be of good cheer, Donald. I have devised a scheme by which we can easily revenge ourselves on this ingrate for this insult we share. This castle is entrusted to your care, and you have command over it. Duff is our frequent guest, and converses with us days and nights. The castle garrison obeys you, and its gates are opened and closed according to your will. So arm yourself with your customary vigor to punish him for this insult, and dare to a deed which many brave men have stoutly and successfully undertaken in times long past, when they have removed tyrants. Do not be cowed by his royal title, for, if you consider our situation, he wields a negligible lightning-bolt. For Duff is our declared enemy. Having killed our blood relatives to our disgrace, he has left many a household in Moray empty of its inhabitants. Who will call it a crime to break faith with an ingrate and an enemy with blood on his hands? Let him pay the price. Let him pay the price with his blood for such temerity against his loyal friends, who have never deserved ill of him.”
19. Donald’s bile was heated more than ever by this madwoman’s words, and he sought a way and means to commit the unspeakable crime he had already decided on doing. After lengthy deliberation, he hit upon a scheme. Daily he grasped at opportunities, waiting for a fit time to do the deed. It chanced that, on the day before he intended to leave the castle, the king, as was his habit, went to the chapel, where he prayed late into the night, and was more intent on his devotions than usual. Then, having finished his prayers, he summoned to himself those who were especially bent on his killing (one of these was Donald, always accounted a royal friend) and gave them liberal gifts. After having gravely spoken about his government, what appearance a king should present to his people, and how his subjects should behave towards their king, he dismissed them all and went into his bedchamber, in the company of only two attendants, where he promptly went to sleep. Then Donald, even though he shuddered at the idea of doing violence to a king, was nevertheless driven on by his Furies when his wife remarked that the long-awaited moment was at hand. After King Donald was asleep, he wore out his attendants with a lengthy feast involving a foul and disgraceful intake of various drinks and foodstuffs, which they dragged out until almost midnight. Then, when attendants had been overcome by a deep drunken sleep, being entirely unaware of the plot, Donald took the opportunity to commit a crime which no man should have dared. He summoned four servants whom he had previously bribed, to join him in committing the king’s murder, as he had previously devised it, inspired by his own rashness and that of his evil wife. He egged them on with sweet words and fresh gifts. They obeyed, and all but soundlessly cut Duff’s throat as he slept. As his attendants remained plunged in deep slumber, they carried the king’s body out the rear gate, slung it on a horse, and carried two miles away from the scene of the murder. There they diverted a stream a little from its course, and dug a deep grave to bury him. Then it was covered over with stones and mud, so that nobody could detect a fresh excavation there. The stream was returned to its old course, those they had used to do the work were put to death, and, so that nobody would find out where the king had been buried, the servants who had murdered the king went into exile in the Orkneys. They say that this was all done in accordance with Donald’s insgtructions, lest the body be found on the following day and reveal the murderer’s identity. For it is often said among our countrymen that the corpse of a murdered man bleeds from its wounds afresh in the presence of the guilty party. Let those who say this and experts on the subject decide whether this is true or not.
20. After the king’s murder, so as to seem blameless, Donald spent the remainder of the night among his guards, calmly saying much about the king’s good will towards himself, about gifts, and about how he had remained loyal to the king while the other Moray men were rebelling against him. At dawn, a shout arising in the royal bedchamber suddenly filled the entire castle: the king was murdered, it was an unspeakable crime, the king’s bed was soaked with blood, his body had been stolen, and nobody knew who was responsible or where the body had been taken. At this hubbub, Donald joined the guards in bursting into the bedroom, as if ignorant of what had transpired. Seeing the blood on the bad, he suddenly slew the attendants, as if they were guilty of the king’s murder. Then, like a madmen, he scoured all places in the castle, to see (as he pretended) whether he could detect any traces of the murderers or the corpse. Then, discovering that the postern gate was open and unguarded, he exclaimed that he had rightly blamed the attendants for the murder, since during the night they were entrusted with the keys to the gates. But when Donald seemed to be using a mad diligence in seeking out the guilty parties, more than one would expect from a sincere man, for that and other reasons he fell under suspicion of having been a party to the crime. Nevertheless, since they who scented this unexpected evil found themselves surrounded by the man’s friends and, having lost their king, were without protection, they only whispered among themselves and, leaving Forres Castle and its town, went home.
21. For the following six months, the sun did not shine in Scotland during the daytime, nor the moon at night, and no clear sky was seen. Rather, the sky was covered by perpetual cloud, and disturbed by frequent wind and lightning, a strange and frightening omen for the Scots. For, as all men thought, this darkness portended the ruination of all living things, or at least an existence filled with calamities. Colin (he, as I have already said, was the son of King Indulf and the Prince of Cumbria) traveled to Scone together with the nobility to a parliament convened for the choosing of a king. He was so troubled by this strange apparition that he asked the clergy the reason for such inclement weather. They responded it was the crime committed against King Duff, always a man of well-tried justice: if that were not expiated with a proper atonement, the kingdom would soon suffer worse blows and be exposed to the utmost danger. Then Colin beseeched his bishops that they decree supplications, fastings, and similar ceremonies to placate an angry God, such as were traditionally performed in times like this. He himself, in the sight of all men present, laid his hand on the Gospels and pronounced deadly curses on himself if he would rest before he visited dire punishments on the traitorous men of Moray for the death of King Duff. After the meeting had been dissolved, the crowd of bystanders took up arms and followed Prince Colin as he quickly hastened to Moray. News of these developments filled the men of Moray with great terror, and drove Donald, conscious of his great guilt, to flee, lest he be put to the torture and compelled to admit the truth. Finding a ship at Speymouth, he and a handful of followers began a crossing to Norway, unbeknownst to his wife and servants. It is a peculiar feature of the criminal mind that it is all-fearing, and unwillingly betrays its guilt by facial expression or carriage. It trusts no man, and places its hope for safety in nothing more than in finding hiding-holes or escape, if the opportunity is offered. By his flight Donald revealed his crime, something that (had he remained at home) scarce anyone would have suspected in a man who was such a familiar of King Duff and had always deserved well of his commonwealth in the past. And it brought the man to such a wretched pass that he was transformed from a most loyal agent of the public welfare into a traitor, an unwelcome object of hate to one and all. For as he was setting sail on the deep, some of those on the shore accused him of an unspeakable crime, others railed at him and cursed his crime, and some humbly prayed God that this hateful soul would drown in the water and pay the due penalty for treason.
22. Learning of these things, Colin crossed the Spey and took possession of Forres Castle. Killing those he found within, he pulled it down and burned it. His soldiers’ savagery spared the church and its clergy, but everyone else was butchered, without any distinction of sex or age. Donald’s wife was taken — the king had issued an edict forbidding her killing — and she and her daughters were put to the torture. Under questioning, she revealed those responsible for the great crime, freely confessing that by her suasions she had impelled her husband to the killing of Duff. The unlucky woman told the whole story: who was responsible for carrying the dead king’s corpse out the postern gate, why they had done it, at whose order, and where he was buried. When she said this, she was nearly torn apart by the riotous people, which would have happened if the magistrates had not announced by means of the town crier that she was a witch. This they did, not so that she would be freed from punishment, but so that, having revealed everything in the presence of the multitude, she would be reserved for greater mistreatment, if only they would restrain their furious rage for a little while. Throughout the night the prince remained calm, together with his nobles and the entire host. When the following day dawned, and everything had been carefully prepared that seemed needful for exhuming the dead king’s body and transporting it to Iona, it was reported that Donald had suffered shipwreck not four miles from Forres Castle, as if his unlucky star had driven the runaway back to his home shore to receive his due punishment for regicide. He was cast up by the raging water, and taken and bound by the locals until they could learn what Prince Colin had decided to do with him. Rejoicing at this news, Colin immediately sent men to bring the bound Donald to him. His agents had scarcely done their duty, when certain nobles of Ross dragged the four servants of King Donald who had murdered King Duff to Forres Castle, bound hand and foot, to Forres Castle. And so it came about that the assembled multitude soon saw the criminals responsible for Duff’s murder, Donald, his wife and servants haled into court accused of treason, condemned to death, and, after receiving a whipping at the hands of the sergeants, beheaded. Their bodies were disemboweled, their guts consigned to the flames, and their dismembered limbs sent to prominent places in the kingdom so that they might be hung up in high places and show posterity how wicked it is for any man to pollute his hands with the sacred blood of kings. This was the fearful end of Donald, who had offended God, the Creator of the sun, and mankind, who had not seen the sunshine since the death of King Duff, suffered together with his witch of a wife while all men cried out that this done by the will of God rather than any human device, for God never allows the man guilty of robbery or any other grave crime to go unpunished.
23. With such a great crime punished in the aforesaid way, those who had taken Duff’s murderers and brought them to Forres Castle for their punishment were given rewards out of the prince’s and nobles’ bounty: besides other gifts not to be scorned, they were granted perpetual immunity from military service and taxation. When these things had been done, Duff’s body was dug up, and was covered with white soil and linen inside a coffin, with his royal insignia placed on top. The priests charged with this pious task set the coffin on a cart, and coffin and cart were covered with a black hanging surmounted by a white cross of linen. This was drawn by six horses clad in the same cloth with a cross set on top. The body was preceded by the clergy, colleges of monks, abbots of monasteries, and bishops of districts, and followed by the nobility of the nation and Prince Colin, and then by his courtiers, and lastly by a great throng of the common folk. In such an order, and with such pomp, the dead king’s corpse was made its long and laborious journey to the island of Iona, and there it was placed in the famous burial-ground. Some write that write that, although King Duff’s body had lain six months buried in mud, it was found to be intact, of a lifelike color, and undamaged in any respect. And as soon as it was brought to light, the clouds were banished and the sky cleared, so that the sun shone with unusual brightness. And, to men’s great astonishment, the neighboring fields burst forth with a great variety of flowers, despite the season of the year A few centuries later a bridge was built over the river at the place where the body had been buried. The hamlet at the end of the bridge was called Kilfloss, meaning “The Church of the Flowers,” a name that survives in our day. Now there is abbey there with a right noble chapel dedicated to the Holy Virgin, an edifice of noble construction, distinguished by a pious college of the Cistercian Order, second to none in its observation of religious worship. During that year, the following prodigies were seen in Scotland: horses of great handsomeness and speed in Lothian, that ate their own flesh and stubbornly abstained from all other nourishment; a boy born to a noble mother in Angus, eyeless and noseless, having neither a foot or a hand; in the same place, a hawk snatched by the throat by an owl in broad daylight and strangled to death. Nor was it regarded as any less meaningful an omen by one and all, that throughout Scotland for six continual months the sun was kept from shining by dark clouds (as I have said), and there was no man who failed to understand that the cause of this was the detestable crime of Donald.
24. When Prince Colin had done excellent work in punishing that crime, that great insult against the royal house, in the way I have related, and when Duff’s funeral pomp had been duly observed, he was set in Duff’s place as king at Scone, with the consent of one and all, in the year of Christianity 972, after Duff had ruled among the Scots for four years, and Eadred the same number among the English. Colin’s reign had a happy beginning in the execution of justice, but sequel did not show him to be such as this promised. For he did not long rule his realm according the the elders’ prudent counsel, but soon he so loosened the bridle on the pleasure-mad young noblemen, that they lived a life with more license than they ever had enjoyed in the reign of any of his ancestors. When these rascals were brought before him, he did not tax them with any just penalty, nor did he command that delinquents be searched for; indeed, if anybody did find them, they received no praise from him. Offences of noblemen against commoners, traders, and priests (for at the time the nobility were ill-disposed towards men of that kind) went deliberately unpunished, to the point that it seemed that, were he to continue in that manner of government, public as well as private safety would be endangered by internal sedition. Advised of this by the leading men of the realm, not without criticism, King Colin’s reply was that he was full aware that lads were not born old men. At first they were uncontrollable, being of that age, but with the passage of time they became more settled. Therefore they should not always be handled with great severity: rather, in their youth they should be allowed as much of a slack rein as appeared sufficient to encourage them in their high-spiritedness. Indulf and Duff had ruled their people over-harshly. But kings who desire to govern properly in peacetime should shun harshness like the plague, as the unhappy ends of those aforementioned kings served to show. For, when they strove to restrain the nobility under a show of justice, and came forth as champions of priests, peasants, traders, and those who should play the least part in their nation, their contempt of the nobility only encouraged those men to rebel, so in the end they brought about their own downfall. Instructed by those kings’ dangers, he wished to rule in such way that he could be said to govern by affection rather than fear, for, in his opinion, it was by this means and no other that subjects could be kept loyal to their sovereign.
25. Although Colin’s reply did not seem advantageous for the public welfare of Scotland, no man openly voiced his disapproval, for fear of offending his public authority. Indeed, a number of men praised it, particularly those who disliked prudent and just magistrates. Thus the elders, who had never failed to support his predecessors Indulf and Duff with their wise advice during their lifetimes, seeing a great number of royal familiars who flourished in birth and wealth growing daily more corrupted by license, and hence forecasting that by this means their public way of life, so excellently created by their ancestors, was destined to crumble, removed themselves from Colin’s court and any association with him. Gradually some men belonging to the royal household insinuated themselves, ready to corrupt whatever remained of the king’s good character. These flattering butlers and gentlemen of the bedchamber, who (if I might put it this way) were the fathers and sponsors of outrageous behavior in young men, often employed their immoderate praises to encourage the king to indulge in those delightful things which most greatly serve to effeminate the mind, and only in those pursuits which appeared delightful and full of pleasure. In the end, they brought him to such a condition that, like themselves, he measured all good things according to the standards of his belly and obscene pleasure. For, thanks to their constant talk about of pleasures, Colin grew inflamed with desires. He turned his back on the virtues and abandoned his sense of shame, that most excellent ornament of kings. For, while his low-born toadies praised the same outrageous things that he did, and railed at those men he thought worthy of vituperation, he did not blush to spend his days and nights in eating and drinking. Both privately and publicly he proclaimed that men of this kind (who in truth were the basest of all) were his delightful friends at all hours. At their urging, he indulged in filthy drinking-games, in which the manwho consumed a variety of domestic and important drinks in the greatest quantity was declared the winner, and he would bestow a garland of ivy on him, since the ivy was sacred to Bacchus.
26. To these things were added a greater and more disgraceful infamy, wholly unworthy to be heard of by any man, let alone described: his unpseakable lust and wanton abuse of matrons and virgins. Nor did that madness spare his sisters, daughters, or women dedicated to Christ by episcopal authority. Whole flocks of unwilling women were forcibly dragged to the king by the agents of his venery, so that he could be the first to make women out of these girls. Then, after the king was finished with them, they were abused by his courtiers, and finally by his camp-followers, and those who objected to these sins sometimes had their legs broken. By these things, Colin turned into a beast befouled by every manner of filth. When he had spent his strength in his excessive venery, he liked to watch young men and whores performing sexual intercourse in his presence, or even in public, so that this foul sight would stimulate the failing lust in his own effete body. He spent three years living this criminal manner of life, marked by every manner of infamy, as an object of hatred to all men. During these years, under this disgraceful monster thefts, robberies, rapine, robbery, the rape and debauching of women, the murder of men, and everything worse that can be imagined, such as had been suppressed by the great care and authority of the kings of the old days, revived, to the public detriment. Gangs of ravagers, under their elected leaders, who, even though they were dyed-in-the-wool rascals, nevertheless were somewhat dignified by their breeding and social standing, began to rage their way through the districts of Scotland with their plundering and ravishment of the countryside. Some did their evil work against fields. Others were taken into the houses of common folk, out of fear lest they would do something harsher, and did not leave until they had consumed everything stored up in the barn. If somebody tried to ward of their violence and refused their demands, in their great cruelty they would despoil him of his fortune, burn down his house, and do him much harm. They were no gentler towards those devoted to Christ. For many of them were given a public whipping, banned from their churches, and stripped of their moveable goods, so that these fellows created a great dearth of priests and monks in our hamlets and villages.
27. King Colin’s death finally served as his downfall, thanks to his pernicious sinning. For his powers were enervated by venery and overindulgence in wine. And, since a sad and miserable end usually follows pleasure, he came down with that very disgusting disease that involves a constant dripping from the genitals, which the Greeks call gonorrhea. Therefore he no longer looked like a man so much as a dead body, with his flesh consumed and his skin barely hanging from his bones, He was a laughing-stock even to his courtiers, since they could hope for no more profit from him, so he spent what remained of his unhappy life in great humiliation. The nobles were not unaware of these things, and, lest such a foul monstrosity continue to govern men, they convened a parliament at Scone for the purpose of deposing Colin and replacing him with another man. Aware of what the nobles were doing against him, Colin was making his way towards Scone, and when he had come to about the halfway point of his journey, he was killed at Castle Meffen by Cadhard, the thane of that place, for having raped his daughter. Thus Colin’s lust, hateful to one and all, died along with the man himself, but his infamy lives on for posterity. By unanimous consent, he has said to have done only one good after ascending the throne, which was to die, and this was in the year of Christ King of All 976, the ninth year of the great English king Eadred.
28. The nobles were happy to hear of Colin’s death, albeit less happy to hear of its manner. After is body was borne to the common burial ground of our kings on Iona, in a public parliament at Scone they all voted to offer the crown to Kenneth, the son of King Malcolm and Duff’s brother. At the outset of his reign, Kenneth made it his particular concern to return his unruly people, contaminated by foul criminality thanks to the negligence of Colin, to that degree of obedience from which it had strayed. For our countrymen have such a nature that our grandees are the first to copy the manners of their king, and then the rest of the population follow suit. If he alone appears morally earnest, then his people devotes itself to virtue, but if he is addicted to wrongdoing, few of his subjects are immune to malfeasance. And so, to avoid condemning others for a fault visible in himself, he showed himself to has people as being chaste, abstemious, liberal, modest, and, in short, he was conspicuous for all manner of moral probity. For he hated every kind of turpitude and banned from his palace jesters, table-companions, flatterers, and parasites of the kind that habitually infest a royal court. Careful to maintain friendships both at home and abroad, he hated sedition so greatly that he would track down the man responsible for a domestic quarrel, if any such arose, for execution. He wanted his courtiers to be as devoted to piety and the virtues as if they were on their deathbeds, and it was his will that they all satisfy their needs by acquiring a manual art, and earn the things needful for their bodies as if they were destined never to die. By this method, within a few days he brought it about that neither were his subjects languishing in idleness, nor were their bodies put in pain by the effort of honorable exercise.
29. And when he was said to be, and actually was, most worthy of governing the realm, and everybody was cheerfully loyal towards him, in the manner of the best kings of Scotland he bent his effort to cleansing Scotland of plunderers and ravagers who were damaging the public welfare. He set up his first court at Lanark, an old town in the district of Kyle, formerly populous. When his magistrates were sitting there, all innocent men complied with the public edict and made their appearance to submit to the law. But those guilty of great crimes ignored the royal command and at the urging of whatever noble kinsmen they had, lest they be convicted of their crimes and subjected to punishment, they removed to the Hebrides or some other far-distant place. The king was fully aware that it was by the workings of the nobility, a large portion of which was with him, that he was being impeded from pronouncing the law for the good of the public safety (for popular rumor advised him of everything), pretended to be unaware of what was being done, and reserved his anger for another day. Dismissing the nobles, he went on to Galloway in the company of a few friends for the sake of fulfilling a vow he had made to St. Ninian. While there, he communicated this matter to his closest friends, and finally hit on a scheme for haling the guilty parties into court. But he kept the matter buried in deep silence until the following year, lest some inkling of what he had decided to do enter the nobles’ heads. After a year had passed, he convened a parliament of bishops and the entire nobility at Scone, as if he were going to consult with them concerning matters of state. On the night before the parliament his most faithful followers introduced bands of soldiers into the royal lodging, not far from the meeting-place, and he issued the command to each of their captains that they he should silently conceal his soldiers there until the following day, and then come without delay when summoned to do as he had previously been ordered. When the nobles met together at Scone on the following day in accordance with the royal edict, Kenneth, clad in his royal array and seated on the marble throne, as kings were wont to do, had his heralds bid the nobles sit nearer to or farther away from him according to the order of their rank and hear why he had summoned them. The heralds did his bidding and to summoned all the elders of his nation to the king, beginning with the lowest. Soon, when the king had said a few words in accordance with his plan, a signal was given and the armed men and their captains sprang forth from his lodging and surrounded the parliament, as they had been commanded. For a while the nobility stood stock-still in amazement at the strange novelty of the thing, and fearfully imagining their lives were in greater danger than was the case, they thought their various thoughts. Soon, when the unarmed men found themselves surrounded by armed ones, fear compelled them to keep their silence. They King Kenneth began to speak.
30. “Although you are perhaps afraid, my excellent sirs, lest this novel form of judgment, contrary to ancient custom and the way of our old kings, is going to entail some inconvenience for your persons, being as you are surrounded by a ring of armed men, if you knew what I have in mind, and what disposition I have adopted concerning your safety and the common safety of this realm, you would doubtless have no just reason for your anxiety. For this parliament is not surrounded by armed soldiers, as you see it to be, so as to do you violence or damage the Scottish nobility. These are guardians for the protection of yourselves, myself, and the public safety. God forbid that you, men who have deserved well of me and of this commonwealth, should imagine I am so treacherous or criminal by nature that I should deceitfully and impiously expose you, the sole hope of this reign’s security, to the weaponry of these soldiers, after having called you to a parliament to discuss matters of state. Therefore these arms do not portend death, imprisonment, or any evil for yourselves, but rather protection for all private and public men, and for myself most of all, as I am going to address you today concerning the security of the Scottish people. There is one species of men hateful and ill-disposed towards this realm, whose wicked association has armed for plundering, ravishing, debauchery, arson, and all our people’s intolerable evils. You know, my fine nobles, the hardships that these men have inflicted on our peasantry during the reign of Colin and during the beginning of my own, I mean on men who, supporting themselves with humble food and clad in humble dress, feed us with their constant sweat, while, wearing precious finery, we dine off splendid plate. As long as they are secure in their fortunes, we assuredly will be in ours. But if they perish or are reduced to helplessness by the rioting of plunderers, none of us is going to be happy.
31. “For they sweat to provide us, not themselves, with our daily bread. They toil for our idleness, not their own. They expend all their effort to serve our advantage and needs, not their own. Therefore whoever steals their fortunes steals ours. Whoever either lets robbers go, or supports them, or allows them to go unpunished, does so to their harm, and would seem to be undermining our safety and that of our entire commonwealth. Therefore I am of the opinion that this plague needs to be wholly removed from our nation, and such great wrongdoing done by freebooters must be fended off from our innocent people, a harm which our national laws decree must be removed, and which my authority allows to range abroad no longer. This is something for which not just I should greatly strive, but you as well, if you desire yourselves, your wives and children, as well as your fortunes, to be safe and sound. As I suppose you remember, last year, in accordance with your guidance and advice, I determined to deal by the law with the enemies of this commonwealth, so that peace and quiet would exist both for our nobles and commoners. The magistrates had a session in the town of Lanark, on a day decreed by yourselves. No guilty person made his appearance at court, in contempt of our commands. I took it amiss when I learned that, for the sake of avoiding punishment and at the urging of unknown parties, those where most guilty had gone far away, in disregard of my edict. After I had considered those matters I postponed that wholesome business until a more opportune time. There was no lack of men to make accusations against certain men among you, possessed of rash judgment, for favoring those rebels, because they were joined to you by no small degree of kinship. The frequent messages between yourselves and the guilty fugitives, and your failure to exert yourselves so that the worst of them could be brought to book, all but made me believe that. But, no matter what the truth may have been, I have dismissed from my mind all suspicion of your guilt, something of which I would have you be most rfee. Now I address you, not as supporters of my enemies, but as defenders of the public safety, and yet as ones who have acted slower than you should (if you have made any mistake at all) and who have been less inclined than you should have been towards correcting bad men’s intolerable transgressions, when you were with me and had the opportunity. So that you might with a friendly mind make amends for that mistake, if any mistake has been made, show yourselves the kind of men I would have you be and as you yourselves should greatly hope to become: upright men who love the prosperity of this realm, myself, yourselves, and of our entire people. Search out and bring to me those hateful robbers, who by running rampage have inflicted such wrong on our commoners, and indeed have done so to our detriment and that of the commonwealth, so they will unquestionably receive the well-deserved punishment appointed by the law for such outrages. And know this for sure: these protectors you see standing around you will not depart before I have seen the men responsibie for the wrongs committed throughout this my kingdom choke out their lives on a gallows. This has long been my decision and in my lifetime I will never swerve from it. Therefore, for the sake of the public safety and for your own private well-being as well, you are speedily to comply with my wholesome mandates, and you should be all the more glad to do this because you do not see me hunting after your lives and fortunes, but rather against men who are conspiring against your lives, and mine as well. And you should never regret so doing, because, when this business is finished, you will undoubtedly receive great rewards for this service from me in my bounty.”
32. After the king’s words had ceased, the nobles rose to their feet, scarcely unaware from what he had said that his anger towards them had eased a little. They set their fear aside, and after offering arguments to clear themselves of accusations of guilt. They fell to their knees and humbly prayed him to abandon all indignation, nor allow any sense of their guilt or any remnant of wrath to remain in his angry mind. He should be mindful of how ill it befitted a king’s credit, glory and mercy to bear any remnant of a grudge (if he had ever held such) against men who remained firm in their loyalty and duty towards himself. To a man, they all agreed they would do his bidding with a will, they would seek out all criminals, and when they had caught them they would bring them for their punishment to the place where they were instructed, and remain where the king commanded until their friends had duly done as they had promised. Then the parliament was dissolved and, with the remaining multitude sent home, the nobles joined the king in crossing the river Tay and going to the town of Bertha. While the king was there, this own was guarded by patrols during the day and watchmen at night, so that no man could enter or leave it without the knowledge of magistrates appointed for that purpose by royal authority. Armed men were ordered to arrest idlers in the streets, no matter what their social standing, and speedily take them off to prison. When they were not attending divine services, the nobles voluntarily confined themselves to the royal palace or their own lodgings, wholeheartedly engaged in listening to or reading histories or other honorable pursuits of the kind, as was the custom of leading men at that time (for dicing at home, nearly a universal plague of our contemporaries, had not yet corrupted their characters, nor would it for some centuries to come). Meanwhile they anxiously sent messages to their friends and kinsmen that they must check the activities of malefactors, particularly those who preyed on the peasantry, and exercise the utmost diligence in finding them out, placing them under arrest, and bringing them bound to the king at Bertha. There was need to do this, unless they preferred to expose their own persons to extreme perils.
33. When these messages were received, there was no room for putting off the matter. Rather, every man served his self-interest by industriously carrying out the royal mandate, scarcely unaware of how unfriendly King Kenneth would be against the nation’s nobility, whom he had commanded to remain with him, if his instructions were not followed everywhere. A little later up to five hundred men, most of an origin far from obscure, were brought to the king at Bertha with their hands bound behind their backs, and they were all condemned to death by specially-appointed magistrates and, on gallows erected in high places within the town, suffered the penalty of death by hanging. For a while, the king forbade the hanged men’s bodies to be cut down, so they would serve as a warning to spectators how unadvised those would be who henceforth worked any harm against the helpless common people, and and what end awaited them. After these things, Kenneth praised his nobility in a meeting, by whose assistance such a great plague on the commonwealth, which had ranged abroad so long with impunity, had at length been removed. No more should they allow Christ’s reverend clergy, colleges of pious monks, traders and the helpless commons to suffer at the hands by the evildoing of their kinsmen: they must compel those who preyed on such victims to submit to their just punishment. Then he bestowed gifts on them, as he had promised, and allowed them all the freedom to go home.
34. For the next several years, peace fostered the kingdom of Scotland, which was assailed by no external enemy or internal sedition. This condition would have continued throughout Kenneth’s life, had not the Danish nation prepared a new war against him. For the Danish elders, being high-spirited men, were annoyed that they had never revenged themselves for the deaths of so many fellow-countrymen and their frequent humiliations they had suffered in Albion. In peacetime they had husbanded their resources and were in high hopes, trusting in the great number of men they had assembled, and readied an expedition against Albion. Before leaving home, as the sequel showed, they had made up their minds that they should turn whatever place in Albion where they would make their first landing into a wasteland, and then invade the island, either subduing by violence whatever failed to surrender freely, or dying to the last man with honor. Not long thereafter, a fleet bringing a numerous army of Danes to Albion anchored off Red Head. This is a promontory of Angus not far distant from the place where the abbey of Arbroath with its edifices, houses, and very imposing chapel were dedicated to St. Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury and Christ’s martyr. It is most notable for its holy fathers, who have belonged to the Benedictine Order since its first foundation. Some of the Danes urged that they should keep away from those parts and sail on to England, saying that the Scottish nation, to which that district belongs, was fierce, and in their frequent wars had dealt out more death to the Danes than they themselves suffered. There land was uncultivated and had few towns or inhabitants, and those it did have were for the most part uncouth peasants. This region grew more trees (in which it abounded) than grain, and there was scarcely anything worth fighting about. On the other hand, the English land which lay to the south was devoid of trees, save for those its population maintained to serve its needs. It was carefully tilled everywhere, so it was rich in grain, ores, and minerals. It had cities, notable for their wealth and handsome buildings, with a population accustomed to start thinking about surrender or flight when terrorized by hearing the very name of the Danes. And so, if they were searching for a bloodless victory, wealth, rich lands, a helpless people to conquer, rich plunder, and a kingdom in Albion, they should coast down to Kent.
35. Others contended that their elders had planned this invasion, not so much to seek wealth and a kingdom in this island, as to avenge the defeats they had so often suffered in Albion. The Scots were a warlike nation, more interested in acquiring other men’s property than in defending their own, and this is why they had come to the aid of the English in the previous fighting in Northumbria. And so, as soon as their fleet had sailed to Kent, there the Scots would be, wearing their armor and ready to confront the Danes. In England they should be obliged to fight against both nations, but only against one in Scotland. Therefore Scotland should first be harried and everything laid waste, with most of its inhabitants put to the sword, if that could be done. Then, having enjoyed a happy beginning with that bloodletting and arson, they should turn against England and continue fighting in whatever way the fortunes of war permitted. The Danish commanders were wearied with seafaring, and so they took this advice and gave the order that the fleet should quickly cross over to the mouth of the Esk. Where that river flows into the sea it washes the walls of Celurca, once the most populous town of Angus, and now called Montrose. The sailors obeyed with a will, weighed anchor, and went where they were bidden. Then the fighting men aboard followed their leaders and made their descent on nearby lands by the use of rowboats. The frightened locals beat a retreat to Celurca, but that town was quickly stormed by the Danes, and, by permission of their leaders, the soldiers sacked it. The Danes raged against the captured town with such savagery that they knocked down its walls, leveled its castle to the ground, killed its inhabitants, and fired its buildings both public and private, with the result that after their departure no living man could be seen. Then the Danes, having ruined the nearby fields, hamlets, and villages, and collected much provisions, made their way through Angus as they headed for the Tay estuary. Whatever terrified locals had not been consumed in this sudden disturbance, warned of their imminent danger by the destruction of Celurca, brought to King Kenneth the news of how much slaughter the Danish fury was working against the men of Kent, and especially of those who had lived at Celurca.
36. At the moment, he happened to be in Sterling, meeting with the more important of his nobles for the common welfare, intent on legislation and expecting nothing less than an enemy attack from any quarter. Amazed by this terrible news, Kenneth briefly consulted with his nobles, and decided, lest the kingdom be exposed to any further danger, to take up arms against the enemy and go to meet him, risking his all in the face of the utmost need. In accordance with royal command, on the day appointed for his muster a great number of men assembled in the fields adjoining the river Erne at the point where it flows into the Tay. On the next day, after Kenneth had heard Mass and was on the point of starting his march, he was informed by his scouts that the Danes had crossed the Tay and come to the town of Bertha, which they were holding under a very close siege. In Angus and Gourie, nether sex, nor age, nor reverence for religion had protected any Scotsman found in that district from being butchered by the swords of that savage nation. The king was stung by this affront, and , breaking camp and packing up his baggage, by his herald he vehemently urged his army to hasten against the enemy. On the following night he encamped at Loncart, a village not far from the Tay bankside, famous to posterity because of the battle fought there. Nor did the Danes shrink from a fight when they heard of the Scots’ arrival. Rather, with their customary ferocity they hastily made their dispositions for the battle. At daybreak Kenneth saw that the Danes were present, so he drew up his men in a battle-line and stationed them on suitable ground. Then, instead of a harangue, he promised them all five years’ freedom of taxation, adding that any man who brought him the head of a Dane would receive either ten silver shillings or its equivalent in land. Therefore they should arm themselves for a fight in which there should be no room for mercy. Then they had a choice: they could stand and fight with bravery and honor, or, if they preferred, they could flee from their very ferocious enemy wherever they wanted — and be shamefully put to death.
37. The king’s words put his soldiers in high hopes of reward and victory, so with great discipline they stood in battle order awaiting their leader’s command. Malcolm Duff, the Prince of Cumbria, commanded the right wing, Duncan, the governor of Athol, the left, and Kenneth led the van. For their part, the enemy drew up their battle-line on the slope of a small nearby hill, so that the Scots would be obliged to fight uphill. For a long time their lines stood in readiness. At length our men, excessively hot for a fight and believing the Danes were not going to come down to the flatland, moved quicker than military art would recommend, and started shooting arrows and slingshots at them. Appreciating this, with a great shout the Danes came down the hill in good order so that the hillside would not present them as such convenient targets. They came to blows almost before the signal was given by their commanders. Both armies struggled with such ferocity that great killing was dealt out and suffered by both sides and either army could barely withstand the onslaught of the other. For a while they fought without Fortune favoring either side, but nothing hindered a Scottish victory more than that their soldiers were far more concerned with cutting off Danish heads, so that they could carry them off, than with gaining the day. Observing this, the Danish commanders, by means of their loudest spokesmen, announced that that there would no hope for survival after that day, unless they returned to their camp victorious. Hearing this, the Danish soldiers were swept against the Scots with such violence that first our right wing could no longer withstand them. Then our left was driven in and turned tail, while the van nobly continued to resist the enemy assault. Hence our side was placed in utmost danger.
38. A large number of Danes gave chase to the runaways, doing great slaughter on those they could catch, and that day would have been by far the blackest of them all for Scotland, if in accordance with God’s will (as one may believe) a man had not come forth to renew the battle. For it chanced that in a nearby field was a certain peasant of rough and ready body, and yet of a great and noble spirit, whose business was farming his land with his two sons. It is said that his name was Hay. When he saw King Kenneth and the better of part of his nobility standing in van, continuing the fight although stripped of their wings, with the king continuing to urge on his fighting soldiers and railing at those who fled, while all but overwhelmed by the violence of their enemy, he felt a surge of pity and, snatching up the yoke of his plough, he told his sons to do the same. So that he might die for his nation fighting alongside all those brave men, he eagerly joined in the fight. There was a place near the battlefield made narrow by a lengthy series of old ditches and turf walls, and the Scots were being massacred as they tried to flee the slaughter by this route. There Hay quickly planted himself and his sons, thinking there was no better place to stop the flight. Whatever runaway he encountered, be he friend or foe, he killed with great ferocity, using his yoke as a weapon. Meanwhile those three very pugnacious fellows set up a loud cry that the Scots should return to the fray and rejoin the battle. They knew that new forces were at hand, with whose help they could easily get the best of those treacherous Danes, the cruelest of all men. So they should think hard whether they preferred to come to grips with their enemy once more or be put do death most cruelly by their own side.
39. Bawling out these things, or things just like them, father and sons bravely held back whatever fleeing Scotsmen and pursuing Danes chanced to come their way. The Danes were frightened by this, imagining (which was not the case) that a new contingent of Scotsmen had made a sudden appearance in aid of Kenneth. So they broke off their chase and attempted to return to their own men, being in disarray. Then the defeated Scots’ courage began to return, and they chased the victorious Danes back to the battlefield. The women and camp-followers, who were present in great numbers to gather up the spoils, begamn to cry out that some of the Danes, who had been giving pursuit to the Scots, had been caught in an ambuscade and killed, and that the rest had shamefully been put to flight and obliged to return to a place they could sail away. Hearing their cries, Kenneth realized that the enemies’ spirits were flagging and those of his own men were beginning to revive. So he praised some of his men and rebuked others, saying that they were fierce fellows it home but that when it came to a fight they were sluggish, timid, and feeble. He kept asking them, now that they had received reinforcements, what prevented them from driving back an enemy all but done in by his own fear. The soldiers heard their king’s words, and their minds were overcome by such an ardor for fighting that, disregarding all thought of danger, they blindly hurled themselves against their enemies’ weapons. This new Scottish battle-madness budged the enemy, already in a state of disorder, and put them to rout. A great massacre of Danes then followed. The ferocity of Hay and his sons killed many, but far more were slain by the anger and fury of the Scots who pursued them. This victory was a noble one for the Scottish nobility, which stood in the middle of the battle until its very end. But it was far nobler for Hay, who restored the lost situation and made the conquered and fleeing Scots regain their enthusiasm and chase the victorious Danish back to the battlefield.
40. That night, the victors occupied themselves with nothing other than singing songs on the battlefield, expressive of their common joy. But on the following day they took possession of the enemy camp, which was crammed with all manner of stuff. When this had been gathered up and the dead had been looted, Kenneth bestowed the best part of the plunder on Hay and his sons, with the approval of one and all. He gave the remainder to his soldiers to be divided in accordance with national custom. Thus having finished the battle and ready to depart to Bertha with his nobles, the King commanded that chests full of splendid dress be given to Hay and his sons, so that they would appear more honorable in the sight of the people. Hay refused these, since he was devoted to his rustic work. He said he would he would wash off his dust and sweat and make his appearance wherever the king commanded, but without changing his clothes. When the king hastened to Bertha, a great number of men poured out to have a look and see who this Hay was who, alone with his two sons, had withstood the onslaught of all those wild enemy when the battle was running against Scotland, renewed the fighting spirit of his countrymen, and rescued his king when the army had all but abandoned hope for his safety and he was facing the utmost danger. They hailed him as the savior of his country, second only to the king, and received him into the town with happy cheers. Surrounded by the throng and bearing the plough-yoke which he had used as a weapon to preserve his nation’s liberty (all men thought it more honorable than a sword), he was escorted to the royal lodging, preceded by armed men, standard-bearers, and heralds marching in the order that King Kenneth had commanded. Thus relieved of the Danish threat, a few days later the king convened a parliament of nobles at Scone, where by unanimous vote Hay and his posterity were numbered among the nobles and friends of the kings. He was promoted out of the peasantry for his singular service and effort on behalf of the public safety, and, in addition to money and other magnificent gifts, he was given certain lands at the place of his choosing so that he might live in noble style.
41. They say that, at the urging of his sons, who were familiar with the fertility of the soil, the old man requested as much as land as a freed falcon could fly over, in the part of Fife where the river Tay washes the village of Errol, and that he was freely granted this by royal bounty. Therefore, at a chosen place near Inschire (a name which survives down to our day), a falcon was set free and flew straight for a village of Ross about four miles from Dundee, where it alighted on a rock in the vicinity and folded its wings. So the old man and his sons received the heritage of all the tract of land lying between Inschire and that rock, more than six miles long and four wide. As evidence of this, the rock received the name of the Falcon Stone, as it is commonly called even our time. And nearly the entire estate henceforth has remained the property of that man’s clan. And, lest Hay be lacking in anything which would record his fame for posterity, Kenneth command his clan henceforth to display as its crest three red shields on a silver background, the shields symbolizing his defense of his nation against its enemies, and the silver denoting how the man had been promoted from a humble origin to a great estate. Added to the coat of arms was a motto alluding to the yoke which the old man had used as his weapon when he came to help the endangered forces against their enemy, so that posterity might learn how great he was, how strong was his bodily strength, and how courageous in boldly confronting the enemy. The clan of Hays, possessed of no small standing among our fellow-countrymen for the glory of its accomplishments, took its origin, with its estates, lands, and that distinguished office which it later received by the favor of the kings of Scotland, that of the constable.
42. These were the events of Kenneth’s first years. Then followed times which, although untroubled by any foreign war, where nevertheless foully marred by internal seditions, not without the loss of many men. First a gang of Hebridians crossed over into Ross and tried to drive off plunder, but they were intercepted by the locals and paid the penalty for their attempted crime. This disturbance was followed by a far more serious one stirred up against the men of Angus and Merne by Cruthlintus of Merne, born of Cruthnetus’ daughter Fenella. For Cruthnetus governed by royal authority that portion of Angus lying between the two rivers they call the South Esk and the North Esk, and when the locals paid their yearly tax, he would collect it for the king’s use. And when his nephew Cruthlintus happened to be paying him a visit at Castle Delbogin a quarrel among their courtiers, for little if any reason. First they exchanged insults, then fisticuffs, and two of Cruthlintus’ familiars were killed. Cruthlintus complained to his grandfather about this affront, and was refused a fair hearing. Receiving a response filled with insults, as if he had been personally responsible for the entire incident, and also being given a sound thrashing by his uncle’s servants, he was barely permitted to get away safe and sound. This young man was highly indignant over his injury and on his homeward journey he turned aside the the royal castle of Fettercairn, which was then the capital of Marne, where his mother Fenella was residing. Fenella was a woman of headstrong and violent nature, and when she learned what mistreatment her son had received at the hands of his grandfather, she hurled many reproaches and insults against her father Cruthnetus and in various ways encouraged the young man’s raging spirit, immediately arming him to revenge himself for the insult.
43. This was not a matter that brooked any delay. Cruthlintus sent secret messages summoning his kinsmen and friends, and he made them the only partners to his plan. Then, having hostile intentions, he made a night-march against Angus with a band of followers. When its unsuspecting servants opened its gates for him, not expecting any scheme to be afoot, he was let into Delbogin, where he launched a surprise attack on his grandfather Cruthnetus, plundered and sacked his castle, killed all within it while showing no respect for their sex, and shared out its moveable property among those who had accompanied him. On the following day he raged his way through the neighboring fields belonging to Cruthnetus, then took a great amount of plunder home with him. The men of Angus were angered over this outrage and lost no time in collecting their own forces and attacking Merne, where they killed a large number of men and rendered it all but devoid of men and livestock. Next the neighboring populations conducted a miniature civl war, staging daily raids and incursions, and it looked as if their mutual injuries would soon lead to their ruination, if some cure were not speedily applied. Therefore, when King Kenneth learned about this domestic sedition, he sent a herald commanding Cruthlintus, and the men of Angus and Merne to lay down their arms and make their appearance before his court at Scone two weeks thenceforth (the day appointed for their trial by decree of the elders), there to defend themselves against their reputed guilt, upon pain of death for their failure to comply. Very few of them obeyed this edict. For, under the leadership of Cruthlintus, a large number took their fortunes, children and wives, and made a speedy escape to avoid the verdict of their angry king, which was not without danger to their lives. The highly incensed king took into account the Scottish national character, ever-prone to rebellion if given the opportunity, so that it required just punishments to compel it to obey magistrates, and concluded that, if he did not suppress these factious and blood-thirsty ravagers and rebels at the earliest opportunity he would have a domestic enemy on his hands in place of the external one of which he was then free. So he painstakingly hunted down the runaways. When they had been caught at Lochaber near Dunsinane (that was the name of a castle in the district of Gourie, a conspicuous work of King Macabaeus, as will be told in the proper place) he fetched them back. When they had been dealt with in accordance with the law, he first executed Cruthlintus, and then the other ringleaders of both factions. But he dismissed the commoners home with their freedom, since, having unwillingly followed their masters, they appeared to have less guilt. This act of royal justice was respected by one and all. It filled everyone with a sense of dutifulness and dread, and gained him a new degree of popularity throughout the nation. Henceforth, no man dared or wished to say anything ill of him, lest they offend their best of kings.
44. This highly capable government of the realm continued down to about the twenty-second year of King Kenneth’s reign, when the man, otherwise distinguished by his noble justice, committed the foul crime of parricide, which was regarded as all the more evil since his life had hitherto been blameless, and his zeal for the public welfare had been notorious. The motive for his act of murder was his blind over-fondness for his children. For he was sorely vexed that Malcolm Duff, the son of a former king, had been created Prince of Cumbria (as had been the case since the beginning of his reign) and was his appointed successor on the throne, so that his his sons, if not yet of mature age at the time of his death, would be passed over in the line of succession. So that his own son Malcolm (for such was the name of the elder of them) might be created Prince of Cumbria, he treacherously removed Malcolm Duff, the best man of his generation. Signs seen on his body told the physicians that he had been done in by poison. And yet no man would dream of accusing the king of so great a crime, since that was ruled out by the wonderful equity he always displayed in his administration of the law. Suspicion was also averted because, when he first heard the news of the man’s death, he immediately decreed that in all churches, monastic oratories, and bishops’ cathedrals the customary ceremonies and prayers for the dead should be offered up on behalf of the deceased Malcolm. He himself could rarely controlhis his tears, as he bewailed the calamitous misfortune of what he claimed to have been his most faithful friend, which he mostly did in public. A few noblemen detected a certain hypocrisy in the king, because his sorrow appeared excessive, and they quietly exchanged whispers asking what that might portend. But, since everything was uncertain and all men held the king in great veneration, they stifled their thoughts.
45. At that time St. Edward, the son of King Edgar (he then ruled the English, although he was destined to martyrdom by the wiles of his stepmother Aelfthryth) sent a delegation to King Kenneth to tell him that the English king had been sorry to hear of Prince Malcolm’s death. But, since was not unaware that men are born mortals, he was not so grieved about his passing as much as he was of the opinion that the memory of a loyal man who had deserved so well of the English ought to be cherished with piety and dutifulness. Hence, with that man being deceased, he wholeheartedly desired that their two nations continue in mutual affection, according to their former treaty of peace,. Lest his zeal for Scotland’s welfare not constantly be manifest to all men, the Scottish king should instruct his nobles to appoint a Prince of Cumbria, so that, in compliance with their treaty, that man might swear his fealty to the king of England, and henceforth continue as a faithful champion and sponsor of peace between the Scots and English. After giving the ambassadors a hearing at a public parliament of the Scottish nobility he had a little while previously appointed to be held at Scone, Kenneth replied that in no respect did the Scottish nation regret having entered into a treaty with the English, and desired to abide by it and ratify whatever it sanctioned. Therefore King Edward’s request was greatly to their liking. They would do their utmost to give him satisfaction, and Edward was to be thanked for having displayed such a careful concern for a matter touching on the security of their realms and on the peace and quiet of both their peoples. He would therefore consult with his national fathers about the appointment of a Prince of Cumbria, for, in accordance with his national custom, this should be done by their authority. Therefore he prayed that they would come back to him on the following day to learn whom the nobles had set over Cumbria, in accordance with the desire of that excellent sovereign Edward. The ambassadors departed with a noble escort, and were conveyed to the palace. Then Kenneth his said to have addressed his people’s elders as follows:
46. “You gentlemen who are always most loyal to myself and to this commonwealth, if you desire the security of this realm and the peace and quiet of its people to endure for a long time, you must not consider the public formula we have used in the past for choosing magistrates, in our pronouncements of the law, and most of all in creating our king, but rather what they should be in the future. If our old ones inflict any catastrophe, or create any fear that catastrophe might occur, we ought to fix our eye on the procedures employed by the world’s other nations and the manners of the rest of mankind in choosing what form of government, what kind of ruler, and what laws we adopt. I know you are not unaware (who could be?) that men’s characters change along with the times, frequently for the worse, and that new manners require new laws. Nor is it inconsistent with the good and the right to conclude that what once struck good men in their legislation as proper for correcting errors and rewarding merits are inappropriate for our own time. After the death of Fergus, the king who founded this realm, since his sons Mainus and Ferlegus were not yet of an age fit to govern a new-born commonwealth, a law was enacted that, when a king died leaving a son in his minority, a man of the royal family adjudged capable of government by the elders rather than the royal child should succeed to the dead king’s throne; and upon that man’s death, if the king’s son was of an age rule, having been maintained under a tutor and supervisors until that time, he should incontrovertibly be awarded the crown. By that same law, lest the public liberty be endangered, it was forbidden for a minor to rule the Scots. Although for the following centuries many men considered this law fair and most suitable for protecting both the young man and the realm, it strikes me as detrimental to the public welfare and as an inimical source of internal sedition, always creating grave trouble for those born of royal blood, whose safety it should most of all have protected.
47. “If our annals are to be believed, Ferlegus set his traps against Feritharus, who reigned second after Fergus, and then murdered the man by guile. Ferlegus paid the just penalty for his parricide, shamefully growing old in exile, far from his homeland, and at lengthy dying in the uttermost disgrace. Hence the ruination of two men that came about when this law was first published easily goes to show how much of a disservice to posterity is done by this unfair and bloody means of choosing a king. A short time thereafter, during the reign of Reuther, this same ordinance was the cause of a civil war, when a great many of our citizens and auxiliary Picts were killed in a series of battles, to the detriment of both nations. Our commonwealth was reduced to such a pitiful state that it was exposed to the wrongdoing of our old enemies the Britons, with the result that, after the foul slaughter of many brave soldiers, for a number of years thereafter no Scotsman was seen in Albion who was not oppressed by the basest servitude, to his great degradation. Once our kingdom had been returned to its former condition, there followed the frequent murder of our aristocracy, sometimes involving the mutual slaughter of nephews, uncles, and cousins, involving kinsmen, who should have been wishing supreme security for the other men of their family, contriving deadly schemes against each other. Furthermore, this unjust regulation of which I am speaking, enacted contrary to all just and honorable duty, often turned men bound by extreme affection into contending opponents. It sometimes handed over to their enemy for its execution the royal stock, the muscle and sinew of this commonwealth, and raised men with no connection to the blood royal up to an opulent fortune, not without the undoing of many men. It has also transformed the dispositions of many men endowed with excellent virtue in the opinion of one and all, changing them from gentle men into bloodthirsty ones, from fair-minded men to unjust ones, from liberal men into ones shamelessly greedy for other men’s property, from chaste men into ones prone to every manner of lust, and, in sum, ones who have indulged in every kind of criminality, just as if they had sworn an oath of loyalty to sinfulness at the time of their coronations. And, in addition to other evils (and who could mention this without indignation?), this law enjoins that, after their fathers have succumbed to fate, young royal sons, brought up in royal splendor and honor, tearfully imploring the loyalty and duty of their subjects, be ripped from their mothers’ embraces and taken off to the imprisonment of public custody. In sum, there is no deed, be it ever so cruel and inhuman, which its evil corrupting influence does not compel the man greedy for power to commit against royal sons.
48. “And so, good sirs, God forbid that such a great abuse regarding the choosing of a king remain in force among you any longer. God forbid that any nobleman henceforth give his consent that a father’s realm, unjustly stolen from his son, be bestowed on anyone else. Let this pestilential influence be abolished, this long-standing nurse of wrongdoing and ingratitude. Let it be abolished, I say, this law that is hateful to God and all men, which has ruined so many royal families for the benefit of one single man,and promoted ignominious slavery, to the detriment to nearly all the citizens of this nation. Let us adopt the custom the rest of the world: if a dead king leaves behind sons, let nobody but the king’s son rule over you, without regard to his age. Thus the safety of this commonwealth will not depend on the leadership of a single man, but rather will be seen by all mankind to be based on the faith and duty of you all. Thus, beyond all doubt, king’s sons will henceforth seem more venerable to you, and you dearer to them.” As soon as the king finished his speech, by prearrangement some courtiers interspersed among the nobles began to talk of creating Kenneth’s son Malcolm Prince of Cumbria, so that he would advance a step towards gaining the crown after his father’s death. This talk was suddenly on everyone’s lips, and when Kenneth perceived this, he asked the elders whom they willed to be Prince of Cumbria and be fitter than all others to uphold the treaty between the English and the Scots. Constantine, the nephew of King Duff, and Grime, King Duff’s nephew by his brother Mogallus, men particular especial authority among the Scots at that time, understanding from certain signs of Kenneth’s intention and how he would be disposed to them, should they oppose him in anything, even if they panted after the throne in accordance with the authority of the existing law, nevertheless thought it would be without point to refuse what could be extorted by force. Therefore when the herald asked them their opinions first, they answered something quite different than what they actually thought, and said that everything depended on the will of the king, and it was within his power to choose whoever he wished as Prince of Cumbria, should he desire to abolish the old way of choosing a king and enact a new law concerning that subject. The multitude adopted their opinion and with a loud and undivided voice cried out that Malcolm should be Prince of Cumbria. In this way, although he was too young for the position, the people voted to make Kenneth’s son Malcolm Prince of Cumbria, so that, by Kenneth’s doing, he became the successor of Malcolm Duff.
49. On the following day the ambassadors came to the meeting, and when they had calmly heard what had been decided, and had been given generous presents out of the king’s bounty, they were allowed to return to England, taking Malcolm with them so that he might be introduced to Edward and swear his allegiance for Cumbria. By command of Kenneth, the old laws for creating the king of Scotland were abrogated, and these new ones were instituted. A number of the elders kept their silence without approving them, while others proclaimed that whatever the king decided would be acceptable. These were the laws introduced:
✤ When a king dies, his eldest male heir, be he son or nephew, of whatever age he might be, and even if he were born after the death of that king, shall succeed to the throne.
✤ A nephew born of a king’s son shall be preferred to a nephew born of his daughter.
✤ Likewise, a nephew born of a king’s brother shall be preferred to a nephew born of a king’s sister.
✤ The same law shall apply to all Scotsmen regarding inheritances.
✤ While a king was in his minority, a man distinguished for his prudence and wealth shall be appinted by the common consent of the nobility, to govern the reign until the king attains his fourteenth year of age.
✤ Upon attaining that age, the king shall assume free governance of the kingdom.
✤ Upon their deaths, other heirs in their minority shall remain wards of tutors and guardians until they attain their twenty-first year of age.
✤ The right of coming into a heritage shall not exist until that age has been attained.
50. When these laws had been published and confirmed by the authority of the national fathers, in order to establish rule for himself and his posterity, Kenneth wonderfully won the favor of the people: the commoners by his fair administration of justice, and the nobles by his largesse, for he shared out royal lands among many of them. The king was happy in the eyes of all men, but very unhappy in his own, for he was always in a state of dread lest his crime in poisoning Malcolm Duff come to light. Therefore he was suspicious of even the slightest popular whisper about that business. For such is human nature that those silently aware of some personal guilt are always glum and anxious, putting the worst interpretation on all things. So Kenneth, although enjoying a kingdom quiet in all respects, since no enemy pressed him, had a most unquiet heart. And it is believed that while was sleeping at night a heavenly voice spoke to him, saying, “Do not imagine, Kenneth, that the impious murder of Malcolm Duff is hidden from our heavenly Father. You are responsible for that unspeakable crime, having been corrupted by a sinful desire. You have committed against your kinsman a felony such as you would justly have punished, had it done been committed by your nobles. And so it will come to pass that, as the result of the divine wrath you have provoked against yourself, any day now you and your sons will atone for such a great crime by enduring a great penalty, not without the disgrace of your family. Deadly conspiracies are already forming against you, with the purpose of gaining this throne by wicked violence, with you dead and your sons given rough handling.”
51. The king was stricken with great fear, and passed the remainder of that sleepless night in sorrow and grief. In the morning he summoned Bishop Moveanus (a man who lived with an odor of sanctity, just as he taught others to live), to whom he disclosed his crime as he begged for forgiveness with tears and wretched lamentation. When Moveanus had heard the king’s complaints and understood from his tears how much he rued his misdeed, he urged him to atone for his sin. He instructed him that, if only he would remain steadfast in so doing, he would find that God’s anger had abated, for our heavenly Father is provoked to anger by wrongdoing, but He is rendered propitious by repentance and pious works, and undoubtedly swayed towards mercy. The king, strengthened by the words of Bishop Moveanus, immediately began to atone for his bad deed by visiting holy places and churches of the saints, enriched by his many donations, for religion’s sake. He began to dress monks and the poor, to show the clergy more than their wonted honor, and, in sum, to omit nothing which any man might think worthy of a pious and truly Christian sovereign. And so, not long thereafter, it came about that, having visited Fordun (this is a village in the district of Merne, famous for the tomb of Palladius, the apostle to the Scots) for the sake of doing reverence to the remains of that same Bishop Palladius with his pious gifts, as was his habit, he turned aside at Fettercairn Castle, where at that time there was a forest abounding with every manner of game Albion has to offer. There he was warmly welcomed by Fenella, the mistress of the place, whose son he had executed, as I have related above, for fomenting bloody sedition between the men of Angus and Merne.
52. Fenella was a close kinswoman both of Malcolm Duff, whom I have said to have been killed by the king’s treachery, and of Constantine and Grime, men of the royal blood recently cheated out of their right to rule by Kenneth’s deceit, and for this reason she deeply loathed the king. Day by day, her mind was more troubled by report that Malcolm had died a violent death by an unknown hand, by Constantine and Grime having been stripped of their right to rule, and most of all by the ignominious punishment of her son Cruthlintus. Armed for revenging herself for such insults, with all the art at her disposal she set her snares for killing the king, if ever the chance were given her. The woman was not unaware how much delight Kenneth took in magnificently-built and decorated buildings,. Therefore she had constructed a tower in her stronghold, adjoining her apartment, which she had fashioned with wonderful flooring. She adorned the tower with copper statuary and a fair variety of flowers, but it was even more wonderful to beholders for the art with which was fashioned than for its material. Its interior decoration was something Albion did not possess, and had to be imported from abroad at great expense. It was hung with tapestries woven of gold and silk thread, behind which the clever woman had placed drawn crossbows with very sharp arrows. In the middle of the room stood a bronze statue of Kenneth holding in his hand a golden apple studded with gems, fashioned so artfully that if anyone moved the apple even the slightest bit, wires connected to the crossbows would make them violently discharge their missiles at the man who had touched it. Equipped with these weapons and this contrivance, the treacherous Fenella pleasantly invited the king to the tower after they had dined, as if she wished to communicate a secret to him. The unfortunate Kenneth complied, being unaware of the deceit, and entered the room together with the evil woman. After she closed the door, he admired the very artistic hangings, the rest of the furniture, and above all the bronze statue made in his likeness. and he pleasantly asked her what it signified.
53. “This is a statue of yourself,” said the clever woman. “I wanted it to be in an ornate place in my house, so all who see it might readily understand the veneration in which I hold you, as should all men. I chose to bestow on you this apple, elegantly adorned with gems, excellent king, as a token of my affection for you. So pray accept this little gift. Although it is unworthy of yourself and your royal magnificence, it shows how well disposed towards you is the woman who gives it. The large number of gems affixed to the apple are emeralds, garnets, rubies, sapphires, topaz, rubies, and turquoise, and they are possessed a certain divine virtue for protection against pestilential and deadly poisons.” Saying these words, she thought the time was at hand to put an end to her scheme and went over to a corner, pretending to be removing something from a little chest, so as to stand clear of the danger. Soon the king, captivated by the gems’ beauty, heedlessly touched and moved the apple, and the crossbows set for his death shot their sharp arrows. Quicker than you can describe it, they pierced the unsuspecting king. Thus that best of kings met his unhappy end, thanks to the device of that witch of a woman, to the great detriment of the Scots and their entire commonwealth. When Fenella saw the king fall dead, as she knew he would, she speedily left the castle by its postern gate and retired into an adjoining forest where she kept swift horses for purposes such as this, and galloped off before anybody discovered the king’s death, thus escaping the danger of pursuit.
54. Late into the night, his anxious courtiers vainly awaited Kenneth’s return. First they tapped on the door, then they knocked. When they had done this for a little while and received no response, they grew suspicious that the king had suffered some evil (as indeed he had), and so they broke down the door. And when they saw the king lying on the ground, dead from his wounds, they cursed Fenella as a witch and commanded she should be searched for everywhere and brought to her punishment. The courtiers shouted alive at this unwelcome spectacle, first revealing the king’s murder to those nearby, and then to the whole world. They declared that Fenella had committed the deed in revenge for her son Cruthlintus’ death, daring something nobody imagined a woman’s hand could accomplish. The bloodthirsty beast got away, and, although for several days they hunted her, no diligence could find her. Many men thought that she had betaken herself to Constantine, being aware how ill disposed that man had been towards King Kenneth, and that he had sent her to Ireland, lest she pay the forfeit for her monstrous misdeed. Constantine’s ensuing sudden and immoderate ambition for the crown increased this suspicion. For scarcely had the king’s death been announced when Constantine went around the districts of Scotland with gangs of his friends, begging the nobles to help him gain the throne: he stated that this was his due in accordance with ancient law as it had been established at the foundation of the Scottish kingdom but abrogated by Kenneth’s personal authority, not (as was plain to see) for the sake of the public safety, but so that his son Malcolm, whom he had appointed Prince of Cumbria with the approval of only a few men, might be made king after his death. The common opinion of many men who enjoyed considerable authority among the Scots was in favor of creating Constantine king, and so they and a large throng of men followed him to Scone, where, on the twelfth day after Kenneth’s death, with their happy acclaim they hailed him as king, as he sat on the Stone of Destiny adorned with the royal insignia. This was in the twenty-fifth year after Kenneth had begun to rule, in year of the Christian religion 1000. In that year they say various prodigies occurred.
55. It rained stones both in Albion and France. The sea washed up an almost countless number of fish on the shore of Buchan, which died and rotted, creating a stench that filled the air to the harm of many men. They moon shone blood-red, not without the great terror of those who beheld it. In the following summer the crops and much livestock were consumed by the heat of the sun, and a lengthy run of bad weather throughout Scotland. This led to such a harsh famine that, had not an unusual stock of fish been available, that year would have witnessed starvation never been seen in our territories. Those things warned our countrymen that they the kingdom of Scotland would be visited with yet greater plagues if they did not abandon the sins to which they were then greatly devoted, and return to a holier manner of life. The monk Vigian, a fine preacher of Christ’s teaching, was distinguished in those days, as were the right reverend Bishops Moveanus, Medanus, Blaanus, Colmocus, Onanus the deacon, Conganus the abbot, and many other men well-approved for their morals and great learning. But our countrymen were neither frightened by those prodigies, nor obedient to the admonitions of their holy bishops, and so failed to repent or make any attempt to improve themselves in any respect, but rather comported themselves all the more stubbornly, with the result that Scotland was greatly afflicted with catastrophes that came one after another. For when Kenneth’s son Prince Malcolm of Cumbria heard that Constantine had recently appropriated the crown, in disregard of the newly-enacted law governing the creation of a king, after his father had been taken to Iona in funeral state, he assembled his father’s friends and consulted with them about putting down Constantine’s sedition. Some of those who attended that meeting said that they should first sound out the thinking of the nobility, and discover how they were disposed towards the tyrant, before undertaking anything rash: otherwise, when Malcolm was attempting to free himself from great danger, he would become all the more enmeshed in it, and could not could not extricate himself save at his great cost, and that of the public as well. Others were of the opinion that Constantine should be attacked before he had a chance to cement his power: many men had been cowed into feigning their support for them, and when they saw an opposing battle-line they would doubtless abandon the tyrant or rather, if they had the chance, they would hand over the hateful tyrant to his enemy, bound hand and foot. And so, if only they would march against him with speed and vigor, they would catch him unawares by their soldiers’ unexpected arrival and he would either be taken prisoner and taken where Malcolm commanded for his execution or, if they had no opportunity to capture him because he refused to fight, they would kill him somehow or other.
56. The hot-blooded young man relied on his own nature rather than the advice of his prudent friends. He immediately assembled an army and led ten thousand men against Constantine. Having traversed various districts, he arrived in Lothian. Constantine and his adherents were aroused by this news and, in order to save their lives, they took up arms and went to meet Malcolm. When Malcolm had been informed of these developments by his spies, and learned of his enemies’ strength and martial array, and how much ground they were covering every day, he realized that his army was almost nothing in comparison with theirs. In order to avoid impending danger, he broke up his army and went to Cumbria like a runaway. His name would have become a word of mockery to all and sundry had not Kenneth, the bastard son of the previous Kenneth, consulted for his brother’s honor and stood with his considerable forces in the region of Sterling, employing great might to prevent the enemy army from crossing the Forth. Both armies were suffering from hunger, as were all districts of Scotland, so that Constantine was prevented from taking advantage of his good fortune by the lack of provisions`, and was obliged to dismiss his forces, not without a sense of indignation.
57. The majority of Scotsmen favored Malcolm, although Constantine had his following, and so the kingdom of Scotland quickly divided into two factions. Frequent aids and pillaging ensued in fields and villages, so that before long a great number of men were consumed by the sword and by famine, attesting to posterity how much ruin is created by sedition. For the following year, the peasantry, evilly affected by the harm of ravagers, but even more so by the lack of corn, refrained from all agriculture, for those plunderers had taken away their cattle, beasts of burden, and the rest of their fortunes. Afterwards, frequent killings followed upon each other as the war continued, and wretchedly consumed a great number of men and almost all their livestock. Towns, villages, and the countryside were miserably devastated in the way, and although the factions were sometimes suffered from these evils, nonetheless they were never completely ruined, and always revived in a yet more savage form, to their mutual harm. There was never any peace and quiet, peace and justice were far removed. No man could be found to punish the rape of virgins, the debauchery of matrons, the murder of innocents, the burning of crops, the violations of public and private buildings as well as churches, or any worse offenses that could be committed against God and Man. In the face of these things Christ’s priests and all the companies of monks groaned, as did those of the peasantry who survived the slaughter, affected by the utmost ills, and for a long time no hope for a better fortune shone forth for the nation.
58. While the Scots were suffering from these troubles, the English king St. Edward was almost overcome by Danish arms, and ransomed his liberty and that of the English nation with a great sum of gold. But when that failed to rescue him from danger and Danish perfidy continued to work its harm against the English, he elected to decide the matter with a war. In accordance with their treaty, Malcolm was summoned to participate in this, and his arrival with a strong army revived King Edward’s spirits and threw a great scare into the Danes. After a few light battles without great killing, by the intervention of holy bishops they came to an agreement that Edward should pay the Danes a thousand pounds of gold, and the Danes should rest content with the lands they already possessed in England. Henceforth they should not trouble the English any further with war, and if the English were troubled by some enemy they should take up arms in their defense. Meanwhile, while Malcolm and his army were preoccupied with helping King Edward in England, King Constantine thought he had the opportunity to reclaim those Scottish districts obedient to Malcolm, gathered an improvised army of twenty thousand men and quickly marched against Lothian, then loyal to Malcolm. Kenneth, the aforementioned bastard son of King Kenneth, had been left behind to put down any uprising by Constantine when Malcolm left for England, foresaw this expedition and armed his forces against this random assemblage of an army. Constantine learned from scouts sent ahead for this purpose that Kenneth and his forces were encamped at the mouth of the river Almond, barely three miles from Edinburgh. He thought that he had his enemy in a vulnerable position, penned in by an uncrossable river and the Firth of Forth, and so chose this position as a very suitable one for a fight. He hastened there with his army, and delivered the usual speech to his soldiers that they should enter the fray. Battle was joined as both sides came together with a will. They had scarcely gotten down to a proper fight when a great easterly gale arose, bringing sand along with itself, and blew into the faces of Constantine’s men, throwing them into disarray. Kenneth’s soldiers did not suffer the same difficulty, since the storm was blowing at their backs. In addition, Constantine’s men had the sun in their eyes as they fought, with the result that the victory fell to Kenneth’s side, although neither side found the victory a happy one. For after experiencing varying fortune in the battle, the leaders joined in a single combat and they died by mutual wounds. Thus Constantine died in the third year of his reign, which was the year of Christ our Savior 1002.
59. After the battle had thus been fought, Grime, the nephew of the former King Duff by his brother Kenneth, the Thane of Athol (some say Kenneth was Duff’s son) was left as the leading member of Constantine’s faction. Hearing that the bastard Kenneth and nearly the entire nobility of the opposing faction had been killed in the battle, and that only commoners survived, he concluded that the victors had suffered a greater loss in the fight than had the vanquished and were consequently greatly weakened, so he collected his followers and the remnants of Constantine’s army and went to Scone. There he declared himself King of Scots in accordance with the ancient custom of choosing a king, with the approval of the multitude. Thus gaining rule over Scotland, in no way did Grime alter the good will he had displayed to the members of Constantine’s faction prior to ascending the throne. He did nothing harshly, but rather employed the power he had assumed gently and with kindness, being a man who, in addition to the other endowments of his mind, was marked by liberality, that virtue which does the most to gain popularity. For he realized he was an object of hatred to Malcolm and his adherents, and in order to avoid suffering harm at their hands, he devoted himself to nothing more than to being loved by all man, believing he could place his government on a firm footing in this way and no other. He was helped by the memory of King Duff’s happy reign and innocence of life, for it was already a trite saying among all men that King Grime was destined to live according to the excellent ways of his uncle. In addition, King Grime was endowed with a comeliness of physique so outstanding that his gifts of mind and body were harmonious, and it was on the lips of many men that Fortune had taken him by the hand and, with God’s approval, brought to govern a kingdom very much in need of a good ruler. Therefore, so he might embody his inherited uprightness, and be, both in appearance and in fact, the kind of man his people supposed he would be, he honored his friends, of whatever condition they might be, and those he found to be dutiful and loyal towards himself, with fine gifts, and retained them in his friendship.
60. When these things were reported to Malcolm, although he was downcast and very anxious, he pretended to be scornful, and spent some days at home, quietly discussing this business with his friends. Most of them urged Malcolm not to disdain his enemy, who had the support of the majority of Scotsmen, and to strive against him by strategy rather than a trial of strength. If possible, the men of his nation most outstanding for their wealth and virtue should be won over to his side, and, if this proved successful, everything else should be done according to the advice of his prudent counselors. Acquiescing to his advisors, he sent secret representatives to the thanes of Argyll, Lorne, Athol, Mar, Moray, Ross, and Caithness for the purpose of reminding them of their sworn faith to King : they should assist the just party of his sons with their counsel and, if required, their just arms, and not allow the law recently passed about choosing a king by unanimous vote to be violated by the tyrant Grime’s ambition. They ought to follow the legitimate heir to the kingdom rather than a tyrant impiously usurping the realm in contravention of national law. As long as they stood by their duty and played the part of upright men, it would soon come about that Grime would be removed, internal seditions would be extinguished, and the law would be observed in every quarter, to the great advantage of their entire people. Some of the nobles gave the men bearing these encouragements a warm welcome, defected from Grime to Malcolm, and urged their neighbors to do the same. But others, and by far the larger part, placed these messengers under arrest and sent them to Grime with their hands tied behind their backs, and he ordered them to be kept in public custody. Vexed by this insult, Malcolm cursed the treachery of those who had mistreated his representatives in disregard of international law, and, at the urging of his friends he announced an expedition against Grime. When two weeks had passed and he had held his levy and collected provisions, with a great equipment of war he began a march against his enemy.
61. While Malcolm was on the march, Grime led out his forces, but he did so slowly, so as to draw his enemies farther from their home. Among his army were the Hebridians and whatever men of Scottish blood lived south of the Forth and the Clyde. Malcolm’s forces were recruited from the other districts of Scotland and were far fewer in number. And when it was announced to Malcolm in what large forces Grime was approaching for the battle, he was concerned lest his soldiers become panic-stricken and lose heart for a fight. So he published an edict forbidding his soldiers to admit any man coming to the army or speak with him before he had been escorted to the king, upon pain of death for non-compliance. Rumor is something which cannot keep silent about anything, and habitually exaggerates evils. And so word spread throughout his army that they would not have to fight only with Grime’s very numerous and powerful forces, but also with many men in Malcolm’s own army, if they continued in their march. Hence such a great fear suddenly came over them all that their senses and courage were thrown into great confusion. This panic first began among the tradesmen, who were more experienced in buying and selling than in fighting, of whom no small number were enlisted in Malcolm’s army out of fear that, if they did not follow him, they would be deprived of their lives and fortunes. They were untrained in military matters and all but devoid of weaponry and all the instruments of war. Various ones of these started inventing various reasons which, they claimed ,made their departure necessary, and begged Malcolm for permission to leave. And when they could not obtain this, they shamelessly filled his camp with their tears and wailing. Their exclamations and dread gradually produced a deep disturbance even on the veteran soldiers and the noble captains who commanded their companies. After Malcolm had come to appreciate this, he scarcely thought it safe to fight a very warlike enemy with such panicky soldiers, so, at the advice of his familiars, to avoid their common endangerment he sent those civilians home, while he himself took up position along the bank of the Forth together with his courtiers and members of his household, so as to prevent the enemy from crossing the river.
62. While these things were transpiring, Fothadus, primate of Scotland at that time, a man endowed with supreme virtue and mercy, was sorely vexed that the kingdom was suffering from civil war, with King Grime on the one side, and Prince Malcolm of Cumbria on the other, pulling apart the body politic. So he donned his bishop’s habit and went to Grime with a large number of venerable priests. On his arrival, Grime showed him reverence, then asked him what thing unexpected thing happened that made him come in his sacramental robes, which he was only supposed to wear when performing divine services. The bishop replied, “I have come as the servant of Christ the Prince of Peace, with my vestments proclaiming peace, humbly beseeching you to have pity on this your afflicted realm, since God Almighty has given you to be its master. For so many and such great fires of civil discord burn within it that, unless this nation is freed from war by your personal intervention, undoubtedly it will soon collapse, to the great ruination of all men. These domestic seditions have gone so far that, while their warlike confusion rages, both private and public rapine and murder do not only go unpunished, as if the Fates were dragging down Scotland to its destruction, but even are applauded by many men. Nowhere, not even in his own home, can a man belonging to the helpless multitude find safety, without the fury of ravagers despoiling him of his fortune, and not infrequently of his very life. Nor can we look for any end to these evils, as domestic discords continue to afflict this realm. So you will provide the end to such great calamities by which this people is vexed, if you enter into a necessary concord with Malcolm. If you raise no objection, I myself will undertake the resolution of everything with no loss to your honor, with God’s help I shall bring about a prosperous conclusion. Have pity, I urgently pray you, on the afflicted nation of Scotland, worn down by greater calamities than even its most cruel enemy could desire. But if your nation’s calamity does not move you, at least have pity on your own condition. Know for a surety that, if this people perishes, so must you perish. You can never be safe, if it is not safe too.”
63. King Grime’s response to the holy bishop’s speech was that he preferred peace to war, as long as no detraction was made to his honor. And yet he would not demit this kingship, gained in accordance with the sanction of his forefathers, save along with his very life, and was prepared to defend that right against Malcolm and his adherents to the death. If Malcolm would rest content with his principality of Cumbria, dismiss his forces, and go home, no more to continue the war, he was willing to discuss peace. But if Malcolm chose otherwise, he would assuredly have a very bitter enemy, ready to fight to the bitter end and decide the entire matter by the sword. Fothardus replied to the king’s words by requesting him to pause in his march a little while, until he could determine Malcolm’s intention concerning this matter: if only they would consult for the public safety, it would come to pass that all things would turn out as they both wished. Gaining this, the bishop hastened on to Malcolm at Sterling, clad in the same vestments. When he had delivered a long speech in his presence, deploring the woes of the Scottish caused by domestic sedition, and employing many arguments in showing what an unhappy and ruinous outcome awaited the continuation of their war, he obtained the response that, if Grime would abandon his army, he himself would retire to Cumbria without any further advance, and there would be a three months’ truce between the princes. During this time, umpires would be selected and granted permission to pass back and forth to arrange a peace by a ratified treaty. Grime did not dislike this proposal, thinking that with no further tumult of war he could remain in that power which he had acquired with such great risk to himself and his realm. He likewise dismissed the civilian members of his army, and with the greater part of Scotland’s nobility he hastened to Angus, where he retired into Castle Forfar to consult with them about the handling of this affair. The venerable Bishop Fothardus could not rest before umpires appointed with the consent of both princes had met at Scone to discuss the settlement of this tragic quarrel. In accordance with their decision, a few days later a peace was agreed between Grime and Malcolm, and cemented by a sworn pact.
64. These were the terms of the pact. Lest Grime be a laughingstock to his subjects by becoming a private subject after having been a king, he should remain on the throne to the end of his life. At his death, the kingdom would incontrovertibly be bestowed on Malcolm. Henceforth, in accordance with Kenneth’s legislation, the royal title would remain in his family, and it would be treasonable even to speak a word against that law. Whatever land lay between Lothian and Northumbria, between the river Clyde and Westmoreland, and between the German Sea and the Irish Sea, should come under Malcolm’ power. Content with those territories, he would henceforth not take up arms against Grime or his friends, nor come to the aid of his enemies. If he were rash enough to do otherwise in violation of the terms of the pact, he would lose whatever right he had to the crown of Scotland, as would his entire posterity. When the princes had set their hands on Christ’s Gospels and sworn to observe these terms, both sides laid aside their arms and, to the great rejoicing of the people, turned their minds to ruling a government shaken by the troubles of war. Nevertheless, by means of heralds they issued edicts that everything should be in readiness against any eventuality, and that their young men should be in good condition and ready to take up arms. It is reasonable to imagine the princes did this out of mutual mistrust, so that they were on their guard against treachery and ready for every disturbance, should one occur.
65. A peace of this kind was maintained for three years, not without mutual suspicion of rivalry, as they governed with moderation. Meanwhile, after the death St. Edward, his brother Aethelred was hailed as king. He was attacked in a serious war by the Danes, who had brought over their wives and children to England to settle there, and he and his entire nation were beset with many woes. For the unrestrained and bloody ferocity of the Danes ranged throughout their countryside, their cities and streets, wherever it could gain the upper hand, filling everything with murder and rapine. The peace they had made and their sworn pact could not restrain that cruel nation from its butchery, sometimes openly for manufactured causes, but very often by stealth, and it appeared that Danish perfidy was aiming at nothing short of the destruction of the English kingdom. At the urging of his national fathers, King Aethelred adopted the plan of exterminating the entire Danish nation in England, by secretly hiring murderers who would deceitfully kill them all on one and the same day, and he would have accomplished this, had not a certain man revealed the plan to the Danes. So the greater part of them, not unaware of the English scheme directed against themselves, avoided the danger, although the rest were murdered by the deception. The survivors, furious over the death of their comrades, fortified the strongholds and castles they possessed in England, and sent to King Sweyn of Denmark for a new band of soldiers, in order take revenge for the damage recently suffered by English perfidy. Nor did they cease from waging war, as they staged light raids. Meanwhile King Grime, who had been preserved during these events by the lengthy peace, enhanced in his wealth, and long regarded as a man possessed of a self-controlled and liberal character, began to be characterized by corrupt morals and an insatiable greed for money. When he had removed by execution a number of Scotsman (as often happens) on falsified charges, so that he might acquire their wealth, since there existed no mortal man who could avenge his cruel murders and his oppressed people had often bewailed their woes to human ears in vain, at length they addressed their complaints to God, the Avenger of crimes, praying that He would take pity on the afflicted and change their condition for the better. By that time, the nobles were weary of his iniquitous form of government (for they themselves were scarcely immune from his wrongdoing) and sent certain men of no little authority to the king, who chanced to be at Lanrick Castle. In the common name of the nobility, they urged him to ignore the opinions of the rascals in whom, as many thought, he placed excessive trust, and consider the public good, as he had done at the beginning of his reign. The delegates’ speech in Grime’s presence was as follows:
66. “We are a part of the Scottish nobility, representatives of no foreign nation, but rather of the community of your subjects who have to this very day have existed in blameless loyalty to you, have come to you urging that you consult for your own safety and that of this kingdom. You know, most noble king, nor can it escape your notice how your people is being oppressed by the losses caused by the wrongdoing of your henchmen, motivated by their inexhaustible greed, not to mention your own. It is impossible for you to shift the blame onto others, for it is within your power to appoint public magistrates, and whatever they do amiss rightfully redounds on yourself, since you are responsible for them. The sword was given you to be wielded against guilty men and enemies, not innocent subects. Better to die (as men are commonly saying) than to be unhumanly vexed and slain by the daily scourging of men from whom they ought to be able to expect protection, men by whom they ought to be defended against every kind of wrongdoing. We your people beg this one thing from you, that you imitate kings who properly govern their republics, set aside any element of tyranny that may be within you, and modestly and piously consult for the safety of your subjects, which ought to be more important for you than your own. We regardi t as a crime for you to receive harm at the hands of any man, or, if fight we must, to be wounded or taken prisoner, as long as we live and breathe. Indeed, we are all but forgetful of our own safety in our desire to protect you, and have always been ready to protect yoiu, not just with our fortunes, but by placing our very bodies between yourself and danger. So show yourself a true king. Love those by whom you want to be loved, and rest assured that no controversy exists between a most kindly king and his most obedient subjects.”
67. After answering them with false words, spoken to dissimulate his true disposition rather than express any good will towardds his nation, he invited the delegates to a royal banquet, having it in mind to take them prisoner and throw them into chains. But the delegates were warned of his scheme by their friends, and on swift horses they galloped off to Berta, where the rest of the nobility was awaiting them. Unmoved by these things, and as if everything promised him fair success, Grime constantly devoted himself to his dainties and his drunkenness, leading a very soft life negligent of his republic and abounding in luxury. He did not refrain from his customary exactions and harsh scourgings of the people, until it was reported to him that a serious revolt was in the works. King Grime was angered by the indignity of the thing, and gathered his forces against those who were not uninvolved in the association. In those districts there ensued a disturbance such as had not been heard of in Albion for many years. Castles were demolished, villages burned, crops ruined, houses pulled down, and a great number of men put to the sword. Together with their priests, whole congregations were slain during divine services. These bloody commotions recalled Prince Malcolm of Cumbria from England, where he was fighting against the Danes alongside Aethelred, who feared they were preparing some trouble for his followers. When he arrived in Lothian, its noble inhabitants, the particular victims of Grime’s cruelty, immediately came to meet him, begging that he protect the people against this harsh and bloody slaughter and, having regard for their endangered realm, suppress the boundless boldness of robbers and ravagers. He should appreciate that he had been born, not just for himself, but for his nation: he had royal breeding, a fine mind, excellent virtue, wealth, and reputation, so that when his nation required a protector it might find one in him, and he would resist a tyrant hated by one and all. Having removed him and gaining power over Scotland, by freeing his subjects of their daily punishments, ignominy, and fear, he could restore to the royal throne the kindness, clemency, justice, equity, and the other fine virtues which the people had often found in Scottish kings.
68. With these words, or ones not much different, the nobles who had come there easily induced Malcolm to regard it as an excellent and honorable thing to attack Grime for his impious government of Scotland. Therefore he donned armor, took up the sword, and led an army against that enemy of the public welfare. As he was on the march, his forces were increased by Scottish nobles who deserted Grime, giving as their reason his intolerable tyranny, and volunteered their fealty. Grime was barely roused from his drinking-bouts and feasting by the news of these development, but he collected what forces he could and moved against Malcolm. On Ascension Day, their two armies encamped cheek by jowl near the town of Auchabar. King Grime expected that Malcolm would not expect a sudden attack on such a holy day and could be overcome, so at daybreak he moved against his camp. Malcolm was not unaware of Grime’s stratagem, and, having vainly beseeched Grime to abstain from battle out of reverence for that very sacred day, both battle-lines came out of their camps into the intervening ground. Immediately they came to blows. At their first meeting, the slaughter was miserable, but soon Grime’s battle-line was overwhelmed and the adherents of his party took to their heels. Then it was not a fight, but just a kind of slaughter, and somewhat small in comparison to the magnitude of the victory. They say that Grime was taken prisoner while fighting hotly, but that he had been blinded by wounds in the head. Then, having lain in pain for a while, he died an ill death in the ninth year after he had begun to rule, in the year after the birth of our Savior 1010, and by command of Malcolm was buried on the island of Iona. After the victory, Malcolm had the noblest of his captives brought to him and treated them with kindness and affability. He told them he was the true heir to the realm, and had not waged war against the welfare of the Scots, and would fight on their behalf should anyone attack them. He had only freed his afflicted nation of Grime’s tyranny and rescued from Grime’s criminal greed a kingdom that was lawfully his, since the elders had so wished. Having addressed them thus, he appointed a parliament for the choosing of a new king, to be held two weeks thenceforth at Scone. When the Scottish nobility had assembled there, Malcolm refused to accept the title and regalia of kinship before the law concerning the creation of a king enacted by his father Kenneth had been reaffirmed by them all, and they had taken a Gospel oath to observe it forever. When he had obtained this from the nobility and the entire people, he was hailed by everyone’s favorable acclamations while seated on the Seat of Destiny. Having received the emblems of royalty, lest anything of the old hatred remain somewhere in his realm, able to regain its strength and wreak great havoc, if ever given the chance, he made the nobles (some of whom had followed him, and others Grime, in the recent war) set aside their grudge and return to an honorable and necessary concord. He bestowed civic magistracies on distinguished men learned in the national law, and military ones on those notable for their martial virtue. Hence the law was administered for the benefit of the people with an equity scarcely seen for many a century.
69. While Scotland was being administered in this way, King Sweyn of Denmark took up the cause of avenging the recent reversal in Albion. Sailing against the English with great forces, he enjoyed a fair crossing and arrived at the island. Danish historians have recorded that as soon as he had been declared king of the Danes, this Sweyn raged against divine things and strove to eradicate true religion in his realm, and it was by his doing that many Danes abjured the true religion they had accepted and reverted to superstition. Hence God in His vengeance had thrice placed him in the hands of his enemies, and thrice he had needed to be ransomed for a huge sum. Finally, he fell victim to frequent predatory invasions and, a homeless exile, was spurned by Olaf, who ruled Norway. When he had vainly sought aid from the English St. Edward, he was converted to the true religion by Scottish priests and had been restored to his kingdom with our nation’s help. So Sweyn assembled an army composed of Danes, Norwegians, Swedes, Goths, Vandals, and Frisians (for many of men of those nations campaigned with Sweyn out of their hatred against the English). Relying on this army, he fought a hard battle against Aethelred and drove his bested enemy into Northumbria. There he was reinforced by the arrival of a Scottish army he had summoned a little while before, in accordance with their treaty, and decided to try his fortune with Sweyn once more. Therefore he marched straight at the enemy forces, and encamped on the bank of the river Ouse not far from York. Then Sweyn, heedless of the favor they had already done for him, sent the Scots (of whom there were a large number with King Aethelred) a herald bidding them abandon the English and go home: otherwise they could expect a very bloody fight from the Danes, Norwegians, and all the peoples of Germany. Seeing a Danish ambassador in his camp and understanding the reason for his presence, King Aethelred cried out asking him why he had come to his army: was it for the sake of spying? The man attempted to answer but was prevented and immediately thrown in chains. On the day Aethelred led his army out of camp in battle order so that, should Sweyn desire to contend in battle, the ability would not be lacking.
70. The Danish king came to meet him with his forces drawn up in great array. They immediately clashed with such suddenness that there was hardly an opportunity for anyone to discharge his missiles. For several hours, they fought a bitter fight, but in the end the English fled and handed the Danes a victory, although not a bloodless one. Great killing was done to the Scots, but much more to the English. Aethelred with a few followers fled and crossed the Ouse in a boat he discovered. The greater part of his distressed army either died by the sword or fell into the hands of the Danes. Aethelred has therefore squandered his resources on a pair of defeats, and, since he had no hope of repairing his army while his enemies’ power was growing daily thanks to the accession of new men, he and no small portion of his nobility abandoned their homeland and went to Normandy, there to await and see if a better fortune would ever present itself. When Aethelred fled to him, Richard, the current Duke of Normandy, gave him a hospitable reception and entertained him royally. And a few years thereafter, to honor the English kings with an infusion of Norman blood, he made him his son-in-law by bestowing his daughter Emma on him in marriage. Two male children, Alfred and Edward, were soon born of this marriage. For before the fury of Sweyn the Dane had invaded England, by a previous marriage Aethelred had fathered Edmund Ironsides, so-called because of his physical strength and tall frame, and his indomitable spirit for bearing hardships. After the death of his father Aethelred in England (as will be shown at its proper place), this Edmund ruled in the Hebrides during the sixteen years when Sweyn and Harald governed the English. Elated by his double victory, Sweyn convened a parliament of Danish nobles and discussed the destruction of the English nation, lest they ever stand in the way of his construction of a kingdom for himself in Albion. Appreciating this, the noblest Englishmen to remain in Albion came to King Sweyn, cast themselves at his feet, and between bouts of weeping they begged him to employ mercy towards wretched men who had suffered various afflictions, were overthrown and, as they admitted, now bereft of their strength. He should not destroy an ancient nation, once powerful by land and sea, but rather allow it to live in its native land, even in piteous servitude on the conditions of his choosing. They swore they were not seeking to retain their castles, towns, cities, or wealth, but only life for themselves, their wives and their children.
71. Although Sweyn was a cruel man by nature, as the victor he handled these subjugated folk more mercifully than he had intended, and commanded that the English no long employ weaponry, and either farm the land or serve the Danes. They must all acknowledge him as their king, and bring him whatever gold, silver, or arms they possessed. They must turn over to Danish garrisons their forts, castles, cities, and other strongholds of their realm. If any man disliked any of these conditions, he should prepare to have his throat cut. The English, their power broken and entirely destitute of help, accepted these necessary terms of a peace in accordance with Sweyn’s will, since they could not otherwise save their lives. And so the royal dignity in Albion was taken from the English and transferred to the nation of the Danes, in about the year after Vortigern had invited the Saxons into Britain 529. The Danes then exercised a hard-handed rule over the English, removing all their liberty. King Sweyn promoted men of Danish blood to honors throughout his kingdom, having evicted the English, and did not allow any man but a Dane to occupy any magistracy, be it civil, legal, municipal, or religious. Priests and bishops were stripped of their livings, imprisoned, or banished elsewhere, with Danes put in their place. The common English folk were mocked and oppressed with base servitude. In addition to this slavery, they were subjected to countless examples of abuse, which tormented their minds. All men privately lamented their harsh lot and reproached themselves for not having chosen to die when they could, rather than be oppressed by this intolerable serfdom at the whim of an enemy who had no room for mercy. The complaints of this very afflicted nation came to Sweyn’s ears, but in no respect did they sway him to take pity. Rather, the more their people complained of their ill fortune, the harder he oppressed them with bondage. Such is the truculent nature of tyrants that even when they see the utmost misery of afflicted men, they remain unmollified. Rather, setting aside humane pity, they are provoked to heap even greater calamity upon the afflicted, adding insult to injury. The more they see men downcast with misfortune, the more they rage against them with their mistreatment.
72. At length, the unhappy English nation was brought to such a pitch of misfortune that in their individual households they were compelled to feed the Danish spies who reported all their deeds and words to Sweyn. They say that Sweyn did this so that any English uprising, should they seek to rebel, would elude his notice. Such a spy was called the Lord Dane or lordain, a word which both our countrymen and modern Englishmen have subsequently applied as an insult to an lazy, useless clown devoted to idleness and living by the sweat of other men. Furthermore, with the English thus oppressed and despoiled of their royal honor, and with all their wealth going to the Danes, in order to cement his rule King Sweyn sought to enter into pacts with his neighbors the Normans, Britons, and Scots, stipulating that none of those nations should supply the English with aid against the Danes. He wanted the Normans either to kill King Aethelred, whom I have said to have taken refuge with Richard, together with his sons, or to send him to himself as a captive. His desire was likewise that the Scots would harbor no Englishmen in their territories, and henceforth abide by their treaty with the Danes, as they had stood by their one with King Aethelred. When he could not obtain this either from the Normans or the Scots, he adopted another plan and sought to protect England from a Norman invasion by stationing garrisons along his coast. He decided to wage a quick war against his neighbors the Scots, whose strength had been broken in the late conflict. To accomplish this with vigor, he sent secret messengers to King Olaf of Norway and Enetus, who was serving as his viceroy in Denmark, that they should assemble soldiers from every quarter, cross over to Scotland, and wage war against that hateful nation.
73. After a few days had passed, a great fleet under the command of Olaf and Enetus anchored off Speymouth. Then the large number of soldiers it carried were set ashore in the land nearby and threw such a scare into the men of Moray that all who could make their escape abandoned their fortunes, save for the few cattle they could drive before themselves, and, taking their wives and children, fearfully went elsewhere. The Danes ravaged everything, as was their habit. They looted churches of their sacred furniture, pulled them down and set them afire, and killed all the priests they came across. Then in their monstrous truculence they ranged throughout Moray and put to the sword all its inhabitants not rescued by flight, appropriating nearly all of that district’s wealth and strongholds. The Moray men bravely defended three castles, Elgin, Forres, and Narne (later called Danburgh), against enemy attack. The Danes broke off their attacks on the other two, and set siege to Narne with all their forces, thinking that if the could take the strongest of the three the others would fall into their hands. And when had made very energetic attacks against the castle, it was announced that King Malcolm was scarce five miles away, in full force. The Danes were overjoyed that they finally had the opportunity to fight, something they had always hoped for, as they signaled by martial songs and happy shouts, as was their custom. Breaking off the siege of the castle, they moved against the Scots. As they were on the march, Scottish representatives made a sudden appearance, asking Olaf and Enetus why they had made an unprovoked attack on Moray, a district of their friends. When they had begun their speech, the Danish leaders refused to hear any more, and ordered the ambassadors to be taken and put to death posthaste. Enraged by this insult, Malcolm complained to himself about this violation of international law and continued on his way, his profound silence showing how full of anger he was. In the evening, when darkness had hidden everything from sight, he encamped in a very pleasant place not far from Kinloss, stationing the customary watchmen. During the night, many signs of eagerness for a battle were evident in the camp, as his soldiers’ demands to be allowed to fight showed their enthusiasm. But when it grew light and they could see that the Danish army was of a number and order such as they had never previously beheld, these high spirits drained out of the Scottish soldiers, and they started to think much more about saving their necks than fighting the enemy. Many men of good nobility began to mutter that Malcolm had brought Scotland’s affairs to such a pass that it was so exposed to injury by its most savage enemy and there appeared to be no room left for consulting about their public or private safety. Some of them were overcome by a sense of shame and kept their chagrin concealed, urging the rest to press forward against the enemy with a will. Among the common soldiers, it was a rare man who imitated them, for by their tears, signs, or some facial expression they showed that great sadness was lurking in their hearts.
74. Malcolm observed these things and was afraid that, when he ordered the standards to be advanced, his soldiers would fall back, or at least refuse to obey him. Parking some wagons close together, he made a high speaking-place like a tribunal, summoned all his company commanders, and harshly rebuked them, as if they were brave at home when they had not yet laid eyes on the enemy, but at the first sight of their armed battle-line grew soft and timid. “What, comrades, has made you fail in your duty as most brave soldiers and lose your old courage at the first sight of the Danes, with whom you have often successfully fought? If you fear the fury and frenzy of that brutal nation and have despaired of a happy outcome, you cannot be considered proper sons of those men who prevailed a pious battle against that mad nation near Loncart not long ago, to its indescribable loss, under the leadership of my father King Kenneth. They took this great risk against our enemy at a time within our own memories, both in our homeland and in English territory, to the great glory of our fathers. I imagine that some of you yourselves remember, and and others have heard from their elders, how much disgrace the Danes earned themselves, and how many of them the soil of Albion gathered into its bosom, so that someone has called this land the graveyard of the Danes. And you should realize that the men in this opposing army are not Danes endowed with martial virtue similar to that of those who fell at Loncarten while struggling against the Scots, but rather their remnants. Therefore you need to increase your enthusiasm rather than grow faint-hearted, since you only going to fight against the remnants of victors, violators of law both divine and human and therefore (as is reasonable to believe) destitute of all heavenly help. Without doubt, if only you follow the example set by your fathers in doing this things, with God’s help your martial virtue and steadfastness will soon show bestial Danish fury paying the penalties for its impiety for having damaged this kingdom with their impious war. Why are you standing there, my brave men? Why not lead your men against the enemy with your usual vigor? There is no room for delay here, none for lengthier deliberation, unless you prefer to consult for the safety of your bodies, destined to die a quick death if you take to flight, rather than immortality and your personal and public safety. God keep this far distant from good men.”
75. At these words, lest they be considered cowards, his officers issued many shouts attempting to inspire the host to advance against their present enemy with great force. The resulting excitement among the Scottish soldiers rendered them heedless of the difference between their own strength and that of their enemy, and they immediately made a disorderly rush against the Danes. Olaf and Enetus saw how unadvisedly the Scots were entering the fight, kept their well-ordered ranks immoveable, and successfully withstood the onslaught of these raging, undisciplined men. Even though at the first collision great killing was done by both sides, the Danes gave each other mutual encouragement and put up an excellent fight. For they attacked the Scots from both front and rear, using companies assigned this task before battle had been joined. Therefore the business was conducted with as great contention as the two battle-lines could manage, as the Scots fought for liberty and the safety of their nation, and the Danes did their utmost to save their lives. In the end the Danes gained the day and their great carnage drove the Scots into a scattered flight. King Malcolm was wounded in such a way that his helmet was pinned to his head and it could not be removed with any degree of force, and was carried off by his courtiers to a nearby woods, as if dead. There, when he had come back to himself and gathered his strength, he was set on horse and carried to safety. Since Moray had not yet been pacified, the Danes thought it unsafe to pursue the Scottish fugitives into other parts, and so, after looting the dead, they returned to the siege of Narne, in far greater numbers than before. At the time, the castle was built on a peninsula, with towers and a wall of wonderful height. The approach to it was narrow, and when the Danes had cut through the neck of land, it was transformed into an island connected to the mainland by a bridge. When those charged with the defense of Narne had heard about the defeat, they surrendered themselves and the castle to the enemy on condition that they be granted impunity to retire to safety with all their fortunes, surrendering only their arms. Having gained control of the castle, having despoiled anyone they could find in it of his fortune and clothing, broke their oath and hanged them from the tops of its walls.
76. In this way the castle of Narne, the strongest of that district, was taken by the Danes, and quickly reinforced with new construction, so that in many men’s opinion it seemed to be impregnible. It was then given the new name of Burgh (a German word), by which it is called in our times. Its soldiers, betrayed and unhappily murdered, served as a warning to the Scots garrisons defending Elgin and Forres that they could put little reliance on Danish faith. So they abandoned their castles and all of Moray to the Danes and quickly fled to King Malcolm. The Danes, happy about the successful beginning of their war, sent ships to Denmark and Norway to fetch their wives and children, their means of setting up housekeeping in Moray. Meanwile those Scots who were unable to make their escape because of old age or bodily infirmity were given daily whippings and compelled to harvest the ripe crops. Many old men and invalids died of this punishing treatment. To prevent the Danes from establishing their power over Moray by an accession of reinforcements, at the beginning of the following sprint King Malcolm assembled a great number of men and marched them with his great equipment of war. Now he had arrived at Mortlach (this the name of a town in Mar, where the first foundation of the see of Aberdeen was first located) when he was espied by the Danish forces coming up to meet them. Both armies were terrified by the other one: the Scots, having had experience of Danish brutality, rightly feared for their lives, while the Danes, now far distant from the sea and ignorant of the lay of the land, feared ambushed more then their enemies’ open violence. But, exhorted by their leaders, both sides plucked up their courage and advanced into battle.
77. For a while the fighting was very hot, as the kings on both sides urged on their men. But when three of the bravest Scots, Kenneth of the island of Islay, Grime of Strathearn, and Patrick of Castle Dunbar, fought in the first rank, carelessly went too far into the enemy ranks and were slain, this provoked a general rout of Scotsmen, with their enemy giving chase. Their avenue of escape was a narrow one that scarcely admitted the passage of a multitude, so that Malcolm himself was swept along by the throng and carried back a little. The bottleneck was created by ditches filled with water and mud together with old walls made out of turf, which, it seems, had been built in connection with some domestic war. And many felled trees obstructed its exit and entrance. Amidst these places stood a chapel sacred to St. Moluag. Arriving there as he was being driven back by the confused throng, Malcolm caught sight of the chapel and, raising his hands to heaven, said “God, you Sum of all the virtues, You Who have the power to reward piety and punish sin, take away the terror of the Scots, adherents of the true religion who are piously striving to protect the homes they have received by Your kindness. In this deadly war we are under attack by our treacherous enemy. Destitute of human help, we take refuge with you and pray that You feel pity for our wretched lot with Your usual mercy, kindly defend this people from the atrocity of these enemies of Your name, and make this shameful flight cease. And you, virgin Mother of God, the longed-for Refuge of mortals best by the utmost miseries, and you, St. Moluag, to who this field and this chapel are dedicated, come to our aid. I vow to build you a cathedral here, honored by a holy bishop, to serve as a reminder to posterity that this kingdom of Scotland was served by your present help.”
green 78. When Malcolm had offered up this prayer, some nobles, just as if they knew his prayers had been heard, cried out, “Comrades, God Almighty commands us to stand fast and renew the fight.” This was followed by a cry from the best soldiers standing next to the king, “Set your faces against our impious enemy, defend your lives and your nation, than which nothing is more dear.” At these words the Scots turned back against their yielding enemy and worked slaughter against him as if commanded to do so by a voice from heaven. While these things were occurring, Enetus was riding on his horse bareheaded, as if he had already gained the victory, and was hurling insults at the Scots. Malcolm and a company of ardent young men attacked and unhorsed him, and immediately cut him down. When a number of Danes began to lament the death of their leader in their native language, this made the large number of them break off their pursuit, which created a burst of enthusiasm for the Scots, but uncontrollable terror for their enemies. The fight was continued by individual companies, not without bloody wounds, but in the end the Scottish cause proved victorious, with the Danes routed and scattered, many of them being killed and precious few taken alive. After losing his colleague, Olaf and a small band of soldiers relied on guides familiar with the lay of the land to return to Moray. On the following day, when King Malcolm had learned that nearly all of the best soldiers in his army had been lost, he abandoned his intention of moving against Moray. After his soldiers had plundered the dead for their spoils he went off to Angus, where he spent the remainder of the year at Forfar, engaged in deliberating with the elders about the protection of public safety and the recovery of Moray. Meanwhile, when Sweyn, the king of both the English and the Danes, heard how unluckily the Danes had fought against the Scots at Mortlach, he was furious about the indignity of the thing. Lest the defeat damage his reputation and enhance that of the Scots, to retrieve the situation he sent against Scotland a double fleet carrying a great number of soldiers. One sailed from the Thames, the other from Denmark, and both were under the command of land soldiers, with Camus, a man of Danish blood very experienced in military matters appointed supreme commander.
79. Two years later, in accordance with their plan, the Danish fleets met in the Firth of Forth near St. Abb’s Head. Although Camus repeatedly sought to land his soldiers, at all points he was prevented by armed enemies standing on the shore. He sailed to the island of Sketh. Having loitered there for nearly an entire month without achieving anything, he obtained a fair wind, weighed anchor at first light, and set his course for Red Head in Angus. There his soldiers were easily set ashore in boats and lighters before the shore could be defended. Camus and his fighting bands immediately went up into the nearby hills. There he was able to contemplate the ruins of the town of Celurca, sacked by the Danes a few years previously. He rejoiced that he had been brought to that place by his voyage, where once the Danes had defeated their army, as if the ashes of the destroyed city were promising him victory, so he took this as an omen that his expedition would be successful. Then he ordered the rich and fertile district of Angus to be ravaged far and wide. In their sacrilegious greed they rifled churches and destroyed them, partly out of hatred of the inhabitants, and partly because he was an open enemy of their religion. In full force he made for , once a Pictish town, which was then ennobled by a large castle and an august Church of the Holy Trinity. When he came to the castle, which had been readied to withstand any manner of siege before his arrival, and could not take it, with his hostile army he rushed against the town and the most sacred church, which he so devastated with his killing, destruction, and arson, that the town never recovered its erstwhile glory, and no trace of the old church remains in our day save for a round tower constructed with wonderful art.
80. Camus was rendered all the more bestial by these outrages against the saints and mankind, and, hearing that the young men of Scotland were up and arms and that King Malcolm had crossed the Tay with a numerous army and come as far as Dundee, he turned towards the seacoast. On the second day thereafter, after he had visited many woes on the district, he encamped near the village of Balbride. On the same day, King Malcolm, striving his very best to provide his nation with protection against Danish greed and violence, appeared at Barry, a hamlet two miles’ distance from Balbride, with his forces excellently drawn up for battle. Since the Scotsmen knew for a certainty that on the following day they would be obliged to fight, and were happy to serve as champion of their nation and their religion, they enjoyed a moderate amount of sleep at eventide. Then they passed the rest of the night at divine services while their priests performed their sacred duties. In the morning, Malcolm moved his army somewhat closer to the enemy, which was now devastating everything nearby, offering them the chance to fight. Before drawing up his battle-line for the encounter, he summoned his captains and the nobles of his nation and calmly advised them to bear in mind what nation they were about to fight: blind with greed, making its living by looting and robbery rather than honest work, acknowledged enemies of the true religion (which they had abandoned, having once accept it), having no reason to wage war other than destroying an unoffending nation, appropriating its unoffending property, destroying its churches, and putting an end to Christ’s worship in Albion. They should also consider what kind of men they themselves were, who were attempting to fend off the utter wrongdoing of the Danes: defenders of their nation, champions of God, men who measured virtue, not by the number of soldiers, but by the strength of hand and heart, men to whom (as it was reasonable to believe) God had given a wholesome mind He had denied to their enemies, so they might protect their ancestral homes, their innocence and religion. Therefore they should enter the battle full of hope both human and divine, mindful of all they owed to their nation, to their immortal souls and religion. They should place all their hope in victory, and realize that there was no other homeland in which they could find refuge. On this very day they must either fall with honor or prevail by fortitude. Malcolm said these things to his followers, who were ardent with battle-zeal. For his part, Camus employed a few words in urging him men to advanced into battle with their usual enthusiasm and martial victory, with hopes for an unquestionable victory. They should rest assured that they must either die in an alien field far from their homeland, where they had no escape or place of refuge, or gain the day by smashing their enemy.
81. Then Malcolm drew up his forces in the proper manner and went to confront Camus, who was bringing out his battle-line. He was all the more resolute in his mind because he had frequently taken the measure of that nation’s strength in battle. This is the steadfast nature of heroes: the more experience they gain in the doing of honorable deeds, the more boldly they dare undertake a noble achievement. Let loose, the battle-lines very savagely collided on that day. When the battle had dragged on for several hours, and such a number of men had been killed that the river Lochy, which through the battlefield, was tainted by a great deal of gore and flowed into the sea carrying almost more blood than water, and the ground, albeit sandy, became soaked by the number of bleeding bodies. Yet neither side appeared ready to yield to the other. In that battle many men were seen to have been run through and yet were hanging onto their enemies so tenaciously that they did not die before they had themselves killed their enemies, sometimes falling dead on top of the men they had just wounded and expiring together with their killers. This was caused by the mutual loathing of those engaged in the struggle, for by this time it was a contest of hatred no less than of strength. After a long time, Malcolm gained a fine victory. Unfamiliar with the terrain, Camus left the field with a few Danish nobles, seeking to escape over some hills he saw from a distance and imagined to offer a way into Moray. But at the second milestone he was overtaken by his Scottish pursuers and killed, paying the just penalty for his sacrilege. The dead Dane gave the place its name, and an obelisk carved with the image of the falling Camus and his killers (still visible in our lifetime) was erected there as a memorial to the event. For it is called Camus Cross, and the nearby village Cambestowne by the locals. The man who took the lead in his killing was a fine young lad named Keith, as our annals record, thanks to whose virtue Danish power suffered a great loss that day. For his great merits he was granted land in Lothian out of King Malcolm’s bounty, and this is regarded as the beginning of the clan of the Keiths, who enjoy high distinction among our countrymen at this time. From his progeny came those magistrates we call the Marshals of Scotland, no mean champions of their nation, as the narratives that follow will clearly show.
82. A noble company of Danes suffered a similar slaughter near the village of Aberlemno, a village four miles distant from Brechin (nowadays a city possessing the honor of an episcopal see), which was intercepted by the Scots and put to the sword. Here a great stone was erected, carved with lifelike figures and an artfully-engraved inscription (according to the lights of those days) to record this achievement for posterity. Finally nightfall deprived them of their ability to see, and this put an end to the chase. Those who managed to escape their enemies’ steel bribed some Scotsmen familiar with the lay of the land to serve as their guides, and came to the Danish ships bearing news of the defeat. After the battle had been fought near Barry in the way I described it, having taken up the spoils and shared it out in the traditional military way, King Malcolm ordered the Danes’ bodies to be buried on the battlefield, and those who had died scattered about the fields to be enterred where they fell. But the dead Scotsmen were given Christian burial in consecrated ground. Although the bones of those Danes were buried in trenches with much sand heaped atop them, in our day they can be seen by anybody when the constant wind scours the sand away, proof that many thousands of men were cut down in that place, and that they were possessed of much larger bodies than any man of this day. The Danes whom I have said to have fled to their ships weighed anchor and began to cross over to Olaf in Moray, and had enjoyed four days’ fair sailing when they were beset by a gale and became storm-tossed. A violent easterly suddenly blew up and drove them to the shore of Buchan. Here there was no harbor suitable to receive shipping, and they would have suffered shipwreck, had not the local sea-bottom been very suitable for holding their anchors, which was their salvation. Nevertheless, since the easterly continued to blow for many days, and they were unwillingly marooned in the same anchorage, suffering from hunger since all their provisions had been consumed, they found an opportunity to set five hundred well-armed fighting men ashore to plunder cattle (in which Buchan greatly abounds) from the nearby fields.
83. At the command of Mernach, the thane of the district, the denizens of Buchan came a-running out of their villages and fields to ward off Danish violence from the place, presenting some semblance of an army. At their first arrival they so terrified their enemy that, since they could not get back to their ships without utmost danger, they were obliged to take refuge, together with the plunder they had collected, atop a nearby hill, which was quite high. Hago, second in command to Camus, was now leading them, and he commanded them to hurl down stones on the approaching Scotsmen, for there was a large supply of these on the hilltop. Many Scotsmen fell victim of their own over-boldness, as they strove to climb the hill while rocks were rolling downwards. So they did not always follow after those who had already been wounded and killed, so that they appeared to be conducting our business more hesitantly than they had begun it. Then Mernach railed at the timidity of his men and openly rebuked them for being of such numbers as they were, but allowing so few Danes to remain unconquered, although a large army under an excellent commander had recently routed an enemy force of equal size near Barry. At their commander’s words, the Scots, as if gone mad, vied with each other in climbing them hill. Many following after their fellows were crushed by rocks and died, but their persistence carried others up to the summit. The ensuing bloody fight killed the Danes to the last man. This Danish defeat was suffered not far distant from the village of Gemmar, and no man returned to the ships to announce it. Immense heaps of bones remain as evidence that many men met their deaths there. When those who had remained aboard ship learned of their comrades’ misfortune, they took advantage of a favorable time and wind, set sail from the shore of Buchan, and sailed to Moray. Learning of these things by means of messengers, King Sweyn, a great-spirited man always unbroken by reversals, immediately armed himself to take revenge for the deaths of his followers. To do so, he summoned his brother Cnut, who was ruling Denmark at the time and who had been very helpful in the subjection of England, to cross over to Scotland with reinforcements. They say that upon receipt of the king’s command Cnut made no delay in assembling a fleet and a fine equipment of war, and, crossing over to Scotland to avenge his comrades’ death, made his first landing on the shore of Buchan. Therefore he landed with his solders and laid everything low with fire and steel, wreaking a havoc previously unheard-of in that district.
84. Although his strength had been sapped by constant war, these injuries compelled Malcolm to take up arms. He quickly assembled an army and marched against the enemy, deciding only to check their boldness by staging raids rather than gambling the common safety on a single throw of the dice ina battle, and, should that go amiss, not having any remaining hope and strength to renew the fight and defend his homeland. For the following two weeks business was transacted by means of light skirmishes. When they had passed, his soldiers grew impatient since Danish fury was killing their fellow clansmen, everything around them was being wasted, and they were growing short of provisions because of their large numbers, so they demanded that Malcolm fight a battle, swearing they would fight unbidden if he delayed. And so Malcolm, unable to drag the time out any further, whetted his soldiers’ spirits for the fight, using few but highly appropriate words to arouse their ardor. Then the armies collided, hostile with their spirits as well as their weaponry. Pitiful slaughter was worked in that stubborn fight, with nearly all the nobility slain on either side. The Scots gained the title of victors more than an actual victory, and scarcely a Dane got away alive. When the battle was done, the surviving Scots, who had more spirit than strength left, were so exhausted, first from the fight, and then from the massacre, that if anyone managed to flee they could scarcely give chase. And so for the following night the survivors of the opposing armies kept themselves apart, plunged in glum silence. On the following morning, when they surveyed the massacre, the thoughts of them all turned to making a peace rather than continuing the war, and either side said it was willing to accept the terms dictated by the other. And so, thanks to the pious work of their priests and heralds, a peace was arranged between the Danes and the Scots on the following terms. The Danes should freely abandon Buchan and Moray, together with its castles and strongholds, and depart the coasts of Scotland. During the lifetimes of Kings Malcolm and Sweyn, or of either one of them, neither people would work harm on the other. During which time, neither the Scots should aid the Danes’ enemies during wartime, nor the Danes the enemies of the Scots. The field where the bloody battle was lately fought should be a Christian graveyard, sanctified by bishops. In it should be buried the newly-killed Danes (for they had converted to Christianity a little earlier), a church should be built there, and be given priests to offer up daily prayers to God Almighty on their behalf. When Malcolm and Cnut had taken their solemn oaths to observe these terms, the Danes boarded ship and sailed first to Moray. Then, having freely abandoned Burgh and it environs and all other strongholds, lands, villages, and towns, and taking all folk of the Danish nation then dwelling there, they went home.
85. Having obtained peace by these means, Malcolm regarded nothing as more important than to carry out the requirements of the agreement. So he commanded his followers to give solemn funerals to the Danish and Scottish nobles who had died in that conflict, according to the lights of that age, and to bury the others in consecrated lines. Next a church was built and consecrated, and priests placed therein to perform its holy offices, paid a salary out of public tax-money. Even in our age, traces remain of that old church, later dedicated to St. Olaf, the patron saint of the Danes and Norwegians, to stand as a monument to the many noblemen of those nations buried there. Henceforth the locals called its field Croudan, which is the same as saying Danesdeath, a name which has come down to us. The church was ruined by being battered by the buffets of sand and wind which frequently occur in those parts, and was subsequently rebuilt in another, not dissimilar, place. It was a great source of amazement to myself and many others to inspect the bones of those fell here, exposed when the sand was blown away, in the year of our Savior 1521, for their skulls, teeth, jaws, and other parts we handled, were not like those of man, but obviously had the great size one associates with giants. Nor do ancient bodies discovered at various other places in our kingdom present a dissimilar spectacle to the eye, a proof that, when it comes to size, the men of those times far surpassed those born nowadays
green 86. Having finished this serious war and no longer being vexed by any enemy, Malcolm first arranged that holy supplications be offered up in all districts of Scotland, by the authority of his bishops, in which all men of every station might humbly offer up their thanksgivings to heaven, and he commanded that the churches demolished by Danish ferocity be rebuilt. And, so that the virtues might be observed and the holy laws hold sway, which had been a trifle neglected in the troubled time of war, and so hat upright morals would be restored especially in the clergy, who set an example for their congregations, he decreed that a parliament of national fathers be held at Bertha where, after honors had been paid to the saints, the rather dissolute manners of certain clerics were returned to an honorable emulation of old-style virtue. By these acts Malcolm gained a fine reputation among his subjects and was now regarded as the best of good men. So that he might reward those who had joined him in enduring the hardships of war to the very end, and kindly reward the children and kinsmen of those who had honorably fallen, he appointed a convention of all social orders, to be held at Scone. When the nobility had assembled on the appointed day, he divided the kingdom into so-called baronies and divided all his wealth and royal lands in proportion to their merits in such a way that, with the exception of a few porches, the hill on which the stone chair was placed at that time, and a small income reserved for gifts to the Church, he left nothing at all for the maintenance of himself and his household. But so that resources would not be wanting to support him in his royal dignity, the barons (thus our annals call the knights of those days) unanimously voted that, when the lord of any manor departed this life, his heir, either male or female, would live under royal protection until attaining the age of twenty-one, and that whatever income or wardship derived from the manor until that time, together with the annual rents it received from its tenants (the so-called relief), as well as all the dowry of an heiress (if her father had not betrothed her to some man in his lifetime, when he made her his heiress) should be paid into the royal fisc. The king’s extreme liberality in honoring his barons was greeted by them all with great happiness, and also their omission of no point of duty or loyalty towards him, was a source of mutual congratulations all around, and thus this pious, loyal parliament came to a close amidst general rejoicing.
87. Nor did Malcolm forget the vow he had made at Mortlach when in the direst jeopardy during the battle. At great expense, he built a church dedicated to St. Moluag, and, either because he had thus bound himself by his vow, or because the region between the Dee and the Spey was located at a distance too far away from a bishop, he made it an episcopal see and endowed it with estates and lands belonging to Mortlach, Cloueth, and Dulmech, togetgher with their ecclesiastical revenues, and until the time of David I King of Scots this was called the See of Moluag. At which time, by the doing of the same pious King David, it was removed to Aberdeen and endowed with greater revenues, and regarded by all as far more ornate and noble. The first to hold the position of bishop was Bean, a man of distinguished piety and learning, subsequently canonized. Deniortius succeeded to his position, and his successor Cormac was not lacking in the odor of sanctity. Both enjoyed a blessed end. Then Nechtan held the office. After the see of Moulag had been translated to Aberdeen, David I, a king rightly numbered among the saints, always venerated him as a father, and it was his will that he be called Bishop of Aberdeen. Nechtan was followed by a long line of bishops ruling that see, for those who have written lives of the bishops maintain that down to this day there have been twenty-five of them.
88. Among those right noble for their religious works, the greatest was William Elphinstone. About is great accomplishments, I think (as we read Sallust to have said concerning Carthage) that it is better to say nothing at all than to say little. And, yet, so as not entirely to pass over with ungrateful silence the honorable accomplishments achieved during the lifetime of such a great man, a better man than which (if I may say so without giving offence) our age has not seen, I would be so bold as to say that, to his great credit, both as a public man and a private one he always consulted for the public welfare in his dealings. He always strove to the best of his ability to ensure that equity, law, and the just authority of our sovereign would piously hold sway, and govern all men more by benevolence than fear; that the people would venerate their king with genuine affection of mind; that the commons would be observant and obedient to the nobility, without any complaint and untroubled by any manner of wrongdoing; that the king would be a terror to evildoers but an object of reverence to good men; that all men would strive after virtue and come together in harmony; that the clergy, restrained from dissolute morality, would devote themselves to the worship of Christ and the saints in a fit and timely manner; that churches neglected or improperly maintained would be restored to their old glory; and, in sum, that everything transacted in Scotland, be it secular or sacred, would be conducted in a manner consonant with the dignity of the commonwealth and the glory of Christ. As long as he lived, this was his constant effort, he devoted his entire life to these things. At least in part, the volume I have written about the lives of the bishops of Aberdeen, of whatever quality it may be, shows him to have been such, although he was endowed with a greater degree of virtue than I can describe, or easily imagine. At this time William’s sacred place is occupied by Gavin Dunbar, a man of noble virtue, who, because of the depth of his counsel, the gravity of his morals, and his great concern for justice, is a worthy successor of so great a bishop. But since this man is still living, so as to avoid any suspicion of flattery, I shall keep my silence concerning his current activities, although a later age will justly remember them as being exceedingly illustrious.
89. But I shall perhaps discourse more at large about these things at a fitter place. Now I must return to my narrative, from which I allowed my pen to go a little astray for the sake of the excellent Father William, who introduced me to the subject of Scottish antiquities. After so many battles both domestic and waged against the foreign Danes, the cruelest of all nations, and having withstood the buffets of adversity, he happily ruled the commonwealth for many years, renowned for his many excellent works. Among other things, he compiled a book of our municipal laws, which our judges have kept virtually unchanged in passing their sentences, and he established our royal magistracies, the chancellor, constable, marshal, chamberlain, and justicer, as well as the secretary, treasurer, chamberlain, and master of the rolls, and found the money for their annual salaries (as is done in our days) in the fees paid his royal officers for legal instruments, letters patents, and similar documents. Beyond doubt, Malcolm would have been inferior to none of his predecessors in his praiseworthy reputation, if the same virtue had ornamented his old age that had graced his youth and years of maturity. But unrestrained greed sullied the man’s great glory. For (as often happens) he simultaneously arrived at old age and avarice. He came to regret his generosity to wards his nobility. So as to recover the estates and land he had bestowed on them, he compelled worthy men to submit to the utmost penalty on false trumped-up charges. The nobles were indignant over that evil and sorely vexed by the blood shed by their kinsmen. Fearing for their own lives, they began to think about rebellion. After they had met frequently, Malcolm was stealthily attacked and killed at Glamis by the kinsmen of some noblemen who had been unjustly put to death, who had bribed his courtiers to let them in at night, after reigned for a little more than thirty years.
90. Having done the ill deed, the murderers. accompanied by the courtiers thanks to whose bad faith the king had died, made their escape on swift horses. Since the fields were snow-covered and they could not easily find their way, they rode onto Loch Forfar unawares. They broke through its ice and fell into its water, drowning to the last man. A little later the winter cold made the ice form once more, but in springtime it melted and their bodies were retrieved by grapples. These were spared no kind of mockery, and were cut up by the executioner. Pieces of their bodies were displayed in many parts of the realm, hung up on gallows in the streets to serve as proof to onlookers that they had paid the price for their notable crime. Malcolm died in the year after the Saving Birth 1040, when Sweyn’s son Cnut was ruling the Danes and English in Albion, and was taken to Iona, where he was buried among the sacred tombs of our kings. Three years before his murder certain prodigies were seen in the land of Scotland. About the second hour of the night on Christmas, an earthquake occurred, to the great horror of all men, and a great gap opened up in the earth in the vicinity of Sterling. From this issued a great quantity of water, so that it washed a great part of a nearby woods into the Forth. In the following spring, the sea ran with a higher tide than ever within human memory, and on the Feast of St. John the Baptist it hailed, as if it were winter. This killed a considerable part of the newly-sprouted crops, so a great dearth of grain oppressed the citizens of Scotland.